Independence Institute plans First-Amendment lawsuit against City of Greeley, Greeley police

By Greeley Tribune

July 19–The Independence Institute, a Denver-based libertarian think-thank, plans to file a First-Amendment lawsuit against the City of Greeley and the Greeley Police Department for allegedly preventing petitioners from gathering signatures at the Greeley Stampede for a proposed ballot measure.

This clarifies earlier comments from the institute, which originally said it would sue the Greeley Stampede on First-Amendment grounds. The First Amendment prohibits only the government from violating citizens’ right to free speech. The Stampede, as a private entity, is not subject to it.

But the City of Greeley and its police department are. David Lane, the attorney retained by the Independence Institute, said those entities violated the free-speech rights of petitioners attempting to collect signatures for Fix Our Damn Roads, a ballot measure that would reallocate existing tax revenue for road repairs.

The Independence Institute said its petitioners set up on sidewalks near the Stampede’s entrances. Then, it alleged, Stampede security called police to force them to leave. Lane said police tried to force the petitioners into designated “free-speech zones.” “The government doesn’t have any authority to limit free speech to where they think it’s convenient,” Lane said.

Lane has not yet filed the lawsuit but said he will do so imminently in U.S. District Court.

“We will ask a federal judge to teach the Greeley police about the First Amendment,” Lane said.

Greeley City Manager Roy Otto said, as the city has yet to be served, he has no comment.

This article provided by NewsEdge.