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CalTrans Concedes in Free Speech Battle; Protest Banners Going Back Up

All Political Banners Now Allowed on Highway Overpasses
Subject: CalTrans Concedes in Free Speech Battle; Protest Banners Going Up on Highway Overpasses

Press Release Contact: Severn Williams
9/19/02 510-336-9566, 415-336-9623 (cell)

CalTrans Concedes in Free Speech Battle

All Political Banners Now Allowed on Highway Overpasses

San Jose, CA - In a policy statement that shocked even the two women who filed a federal lawsuit against Caltrans for violating their First Amendment rights, CalTrans will now allow all banners to hang from highway overpasses, statewide. The new policy brings CalTrans into compliance with a federal court preliminary injunction requiring the agency to either allow all banners on highway overpasses, or none.

CalTrans is appealing the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming instead that American flags should be the only form of speech allowed on overpasses.

“We are pleased that CalTrans recognizes the importance of overpasses as a forum for expressing the entire spectrum of political views. This decision upholds our First Amendment rights,” said Amy Courtney, plaintiff in the case, adding, “We intend to celebrate this vindication of our rights by immediately hanging highway banners in protest of a U.S. war on Iraq.”

In November 2001, Amy Courtney and Cassandra Brown twice hung a banner reading “At What Cost?” on an overpass fence over State Highway 17. Their banner was posted next to an American flag - displayed by the public - that had been hanging since 9/11/01. Brown and Courtney’s banner was removed, but the flag remained, leading to an almost year-long battle that has pitted free speech activists against the state’s transportation agency. CalTrans has now changed its policy for the third time in a year: first flags only, then no banners, now all banners can fly.

“Because of consolidation of the media, it has become nearly impossible for an individual to communicate with the public en masse,” said Cassandra Brown, co-plaintiff. “Hanging banners from highway overpasses provides a forum for those of us who cannot afford access to the media. It allows our voice to be heard.”

To schedule interviews and/or receive a copy of the CalTrans policy statement, please contact Severn Williams at 510-336-9566, or at sev (at) thespider.com.

###

Media Advisory Contact: Severn Williams
September 19, 2002 510-336-9566
(Cell) 415-336-9623
sev (at) thespider.com

CalTrans to Allow Banners on Highway Overpasses

Free Speech Advocates to Hang Protest Banners throughout California

WHAT: Plaintiffs in federal free speech case to hold press conference, celebrate change in CalTrans policy, hang banners on highway overpasses to protest U.S. war on Iraq.

WHERE: 2 locations:

Santa Cruz: Press Conference @ Santa Cruz Town Clock, intersection of Water St., Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz
Banner Hanging @ Highway 17 Overpasses

San Francisco: Press Conference at corner of San Bruno and 18th St., San Francisco
Banner Hanging @ 101 Overpasses

WHO: Amy Courtney, Plaintiff
Cassandra Brown, Plaintiff
G. Dana Scruggs, Attorney for Plaintiffs
James Wheaton, Attorney for Plaintiffs, First Amendment Project

WHEN: Santa Cruz Press Conference: Thursday, September 19 @ 10:00 a.m.
Banner hanging immediately after press conference

San Francisco Press Conference: Thursday, September 19 @ 1:00 p.m. Banner
hanging immediately after press conference

WHY: To comply with a federal court preliminary injunction, CalTrans has now conceded that all banners must be allowed to fly from freeway overpasses.
The agency first argued that only American flags were allowed to hang from highway overpasses.

To schedule interviews and/or receive a copy of the CalTrans policy statement, please contact Severn Williams at 510-336- 9566, or at sev (at) thespider.com.
 
 


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Comments

banner reversal

I'm an Los Angeles activist. I was very excited about the banner ruling, and had planned a whole antiwar series for Los Angeles freeways. But today 9/24, Caltrans reversed it. Is there any hope for activist banners?
 

hope for activists

> Is there any hope for activist banners?

Yeah, it's called telling CalTrans to fuck off and not letting them tell you what to do. Find a better way to attach your banners so that they aren't so easily removed.

It's not hard, if you give it some serious thought. Put your friendly neighborhood engineering student on the task, they'll invent something clever.

Also, don't drop a banner at 10a if you know it will only last an hour or two. Drop it at 8am or 5pm, in the heart of rush hour.

Tactics, folks. Good intentions alone won't get you anywhere.

-Van
 

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