Chose your (sidewalk) battle carefully

There’s been some debate lately about highway blogging: It seems to crowd our sidewalks while distracting our drivers, and for this travesty, uncertain laws against these acts have been selectively enforced. “If demonstrators aren’t impeding foot or vehicle traffic or endangering anyone, then they are supposed to be left alone,” said Chief Hogan. Here are my suggestions for determining this objectively:

a) Are they really blocking the sidewalk?  Well, try to walk past them. If there isn’t room to do so, let them know that something has to change to remedy this. If they don’t act, do what you have to.

b) Are they really distracting traffic? No more than everything else on the roads. As long as blinking billboards and cell phones are distracting our drivers, I can’t believe that a political sign is going to do any worse.

To quote Ralph Roberts from the MX‘s message boards: “Asheville is besieged with crack cocaine, gangs and all sorts of other criminal violence, and you want to belabor the police over enforcement of sidewalk ordinances?” There are actual dangers and evils out there—wasting police resources on free speech advocates does us all a disservice.

— Rob Close


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3 thoughts on “Chose your (sidewalk) battle carefully

  1. yes, I said that Rob and thank you for remembering … but by extension, protesters and others who want to demonstrate in favor of any cause should be considerate of general public safety. Hanging off a bridge over I-40 waving Ron Paul placards is both futile and endangerment of the motoring public.

    but, as you correctly pointed out in your letter, the laws on this are currently vague. They should be more implicit. I favor simple plain English laws such as “Demonstrations of any sort on public bridges expressly forbidden.” That solves the problem with plain old common sense. There are safer venues for free speech.

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