Police in Denver are now authorized by the city council to arrest people who are found carrying feces or urine for nefarious purposes. Denver officials are expected protesters at the convention and have adopted an openly hostile attitude toward such demonstrations. Indeed, they might want to read today’s story on how the Chinese handle such nuisances at great events like the Olympics, here.
The new law, adopted unanimously by the City Council, was criticized by civil liberties groups as an effort to demonize and deter demonstrators. The law makes it illegal to carry certain items, such as chains, padlocks, carabiners and other locking devices. It also prohibits the possession of noxious substances –citing examples of a bucket of urine and a “feces bomb.”
The law is so broad that it raises serious constitutional questions since it would sweep lawful conduct within its scope. The police would still have to prove intent, but it is an invitation for arrests without cause. This is ironic given the fact that carrying around a bag of feces or a bucket of urine should already violate health laws unless it is a colostomy bag.
As counsel in the World Bank protest case in Washington, I can say from personal experience that such powers are easily abused. The fixation on these protests by city council members could encourage the type of trap and arrest techniques that we are challenging in the World Bank case, here, where hundreds were arrested without probable cause.
For the full story, click here.