In the City of Edmonds in Snohomish County Bruce Guthrie was arrested for collecting signatures in a public park.

It seems like local governments need to be reminded on a frequent and regular basis that our Constitutional (State or Federal) protections are not limited only to the political causes you prefer. The City of Edmonds, in a particularly stupid move squandered police resources to arrest a man legally collecting signatures in a public park earlier this month. Here is my most recent video on this absurd story:

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As I referenced in the above video, you can see the video obtained through records request of the police arresting Mr. Guthrie and putting him in the back of the police car, driving him to the jail where he was strip searched and put in jail until his wife could bail him out. You can see that we was respectful, compliant, and while the police threated other signature gatherers who departed the park, Guthrie knew the law and refused to surrender his first amendment protections to collect signatures in the park:

As I mention in my original video, this appears to be a perfect 1st Amendment case (we seem to need to relitigate this on a regular basis) similar to some other recent 9th Federal Circuit cases (among hundreds of others). Here are two recent cases that are worth reviewing for those who are interested. You can read those cases for yourself linked here:

Goodhue vs. Maui County

This was a 2015 case where a pastor and his wife were threatened by police with arrest for handing out religious tracts at a private arts festival held on county public property in 2013. The county paid them both settlements, paid for their attorney fees and was required to send officers back to remedial constitutional training.

Here are some more articles about this one:

Maui News – “Settlement reached in 1st Amendment case over Maui Fair dispute”

Maui Time – “County of Maui drops appeal in Strat Goodhue/Maui Fair First Amendment Case”

Gathright vs. City of Portland

This was a 2006 case stemming from a variety of incidents up to 2003 where the plaintiff, a street preacher, was regularly evicted from private, permitted events in the park that opposed his sermons. The City of Portland explicitly allowed people and organizations renting the public spaces to be allowed to evict people for doing this, but the court ultimately ruled that was illegal and they could not prevent Garthright from exercising his free speech rights at private events in public spaces.

In this case, unlike in the City of Edmonds, the City of Portland provided explicit rules allowing the private renting organizations to remove anyone committing acts of annoying free speech from their venue. The court found this to be illegal and unconstitutional, and the City had to remove that unconstitutional set of rules from their ordinances.

Current Status

Gutherie was arrested for Criminal Trespass. You can read the complete arresting documents linked here. He has been charged with criminal trespass and he was booked into the Snohomish County Jail. It looks like the organizers of the Arts Festival were the ones complaining about him and agreeing to press charges.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below


OUR CONSTITUTION BEGINS WITH THE PHRASE “WE THE PEOPLE.”  IT WAS THE FOUNDERS’ INTENT THAT GOVERNMENT BE CREATED BY THE PEOPLE, TO SERVE THE PEOPLE.  IT WASN’T THEIR INTENTION FOR THE PEOPLE TO SERVE THE GOVERNMENT.  IT WAS ALWAYS INTENDED THAT GOVERNMENT WHICH FAILED TO SERVE THE PEOPLE SHOULD BE “ALTERED OR ABOLISHED.”  UNTIL WE RETURN TO THE FOUNDER’S INTENT, WE REMAIN WE THE GOVERNED

Background articles and reference links:

Lynwood Times: “Libertarian candidate arrested for petitioning at Edmonds Art Festival”

Lynwood Times – “State candidate to file suit over petition arrest in Edmonds”

Everett Herald – “Edmonds State House Candidate arrested collecting petition signatures”

Video of Bruce Gutherie arrested in police car – obtained through records request

Article about Edmonds Art Festival

US Federal Constitution – 1st Amendment

Washington State Constitution

Goodhue vs. Maui County (handing out religious tracts at a private fair on county property)

Maui News – “Settlement reached in 1st Amendment case over Maui Fair Dispute”

Maui Time – “County of Maui drops appeal in Strat Goodhue/Maui Fair First Amendment Case”

Garthwright vs. City of Portland (religious preaching at private events renting public parks)

Arresting Documents – Complete file

2 COMMENTS

  1. Has the arrested guy gotten in touch with Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression? This case may be right up their alley.

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