Not all of our fights are of earth-shattering importance. Sometimes it’s just about standing up for the little guy. Today, Associate Counsel Tom Kamenick tried a case in Milwaukee municipal court where a citizen was issued a trespassing citation for standing on a sidewalk and preaching. He wasn’t haranguing passersby with fire and brimstone, he wasn’t accosting anybody, he was simply standing, with his 13-year-old son, handing out pamphlets and calling on people to believe in Jesus Christ. Where was he? Outside Miller Park, after a baseball game (specifically, on the sidewalk where Selig Drive and Yount Drive intersect).
The City argued that the Brewers own the property, and can therefore kick out anybody they want. But in truth, the property is owned by the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, a local government entity comprised of five counties. Furthermore, even on private property, if the owner creates, operates, and maintains roads open to the public, those roads (and the sidewalks next to them) are considered “traditional public forums” where people have the full panoply of First Amendment free speech rights.
The judge agreed with our arguments, finding the preacher not guilty and dismissing the citation.