4/25/2005Berkeley Residents Ticketed for Honking at Protest
A Berkeley, California review board will examine whether honking at protests should be allowed.
Berkeley, California, a city that prides itself on protesting and free speech, is asking whether a motorist's right to honk his horn at a protest is more important than the right of nearby residents to sleep at night. The city police issued $5700 worth of "unreasonable use of horn" citations to around 40 motorists who honked in support of a hotel-workers union at a late-night protest outside the Claremont Hotel August 27 last year.
On Thursday, the Berkeley Police Review Commission will take up the case. One of the police officers issuing tickets testified of complaints from residents, "It generated so many calls over the course of several hours that it was necessary to send people there just to minimize the discomfort that the neighbors were feeling."
Carol Harris, who received one of the $143 fines, said "It was my First Amendment right to honk."
The case is not cut and dried, said Jesse H. Choper, a constitutional law professor at Boalt Hall. "Does the interest in having privacy and quiet at 11:45 p.m. overcome her First Amendment interest? It's a close call."Source: Ticketed Motorist Claims Rights Violation for Honking at Protest (Berkeley Daily Planet, 4/22/2005)
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