Monday August 27, 2018
New parking rules seem aimed at demonstrators who gather at detention center for immigrants.
Apparently annoyed by citizens' right of dissent, the Berks County commissioners are considering an ordinance that would make protests against local government practically impossible.
The ordinance doesn't outlaw protests - that would be unconstitutional - so instead it makes it unlawful for operators of almost any vehicle (bicycles and farm vehicles as well as cars) to cause "discomfort or inconvenience" on county roads.
With this ordinance, county commissioners appear to be groping for a way to stop protests against the Berks County Residential Center by subjecting would-be protesters to traffic-violation harassment and depriving them of parking.
But the ordinance, if passed, would empower authorities to stifle all kinds of protests against county government. Do we want to give commissioners this tool for shutting down dissent against them? Do we want them treading on citizens' right of free assembly and free speech?
The county commissioners have scheduled a hearing on Ordinance 06-2018 Thursday at 10 a.m in the Berks County Services Center. They need citizens to remind them: We live in a democracy. Let's keep it that way by rejecting this ordinance.
Ordinance could make it difficult to protest