ACLU Fights Ferguson’s|’Don’t Stand Still’ Order


     ST. LOUIS (CN) – The ACLU on Monday filed a civil rights lawsuit challenging St. Louis County’s and the Missouri Highway Patrol’s order subjecting anyone “standing for more than five seconds on public sidewalks in the City of Ferguson” to arrest.
     Mustafa Abdullah sued St. Louis County and Missouri Highway Patrol Superintendent Ronald Replogle in Federal Court.
     Abdullah “challenges the practice of ordering individuals who are violating no law to refrain from gathering or standing on public sidewalks and threatening arrest for a failure to comply.”
     Ferguson has been in the throes of nighttime violence since a police officer shot to death 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, on Aug. 9.
     “As of the morning of August 18, 2014, defendants have responded by enforcing a practice of ordering individuals who are violating no law to refrain from gathering or standing for more than five seconds on public sidewalks and threatening arrest for noncompliance,” the complaint states.
     “Plaintiff asks this court to enjoin the practice of ordering individuals who are violating no law to refrain from gathering or standing for more than five seconds on a public sidewalk and threatening arrest for non-compliance, declare the practice unconstitutional on its face and as-applied, and award nominal damages.”
     Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday sent the Missouri National to Ferguson, after previously replacing the St. Louis County Police/Ferguson police force with the Missouri Highway Patrol.
     “Beginning around 11:00 a.m. on August 18, 2014, the American Civil Liberties
     Union of Missouri received reports that law enforcement officials were ordering individuals who are violating no law to refrain from gathering or standing for more than five seconds on public sidewalks and threatening arrest for non-compliance,” the complaint states.
     Abdullah claims that he went to Ferguson “to investigate the reports” and that law enforcement officers “on five separate occasions within a period of approximately one hour at different locations” ordered him “to refrain from gathering or standing for more than five seconds on public sidewalks and threatened with arrest for noncompliance.”
     He claims that media reporters were subjected to the same orders, and that neither he nor the reporters were violating any law.
     “When inquiries were made to law enforcement officers regarding which law prohibits gathering or standing for more than five seconds on public sidewalks, the officers indicated that they did not know and that it did not matter,” the complaint states. “The officers further indicated that they were following the orders of their supervisors, whom they refused to name.
     “Upon information and belief, defendants have arrested multiple individuals today for gathering or standing for more than five seconds on public sidewalks.”
     Mustafa seeks declaratory judgment and an injunction ordering the defendants to stop violating the Constitution.
     He is represented by Anthony Rothert with the ACLU of Missouri.
     Also on Monday, the ACLU and Abdullah sued St. Louis County and its police department, claiming that the police reports on the fatal shooting of Michael Brown are public records, and should be released.
     The National Bar Association filed a similar complaint.
     And a one-sentence Aug. 15 order in St. Louis Federal Court , in Mustafa Hussein v. County of St. Louis et al., states: “Parties acknowledge and agree that the media and members of the public have a right to record public events without abridgement unless it obstructs the activity or threatens the safety of others, or physically interferes with the ability of law enforcement officers to do their duty.”

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