After Restoring Liberty first publicized the State’s interference with a pro-life demonstration in Juneau last week, a number of national outlets including Life News and Western Journalism picked up the story.
Although the Alaska media has remained silent on the controversy, with several minor exceptions, the ACLU of Alaska recognized the First Amendment implications of using state resources to restrict political expression. As a result, the ACLU issued a Press Release this week calling on the Governor to release all information relating to the state’s interference with the protest.
In the ACLU’s accompanying Public Records Request (you can see it HERE), the group notes that it is “pleased” with the Governor’s statement that he “immediately directed the Department of Administration to look into the [interference with the protest] and ensure it doesn’t happen again” and that he “reiterated [his] support for the constitutional right to free speech.” But the ACLU says it remains “concerned about how the Department of Administration came to block this peaceful protest.”
To get to the bottom of what happened, the ACLU has asked under the Public Records Act for any records concerning
• The Department of Administration’s discovery of this protest;
• The sending of the Department of Administration’s vehicles to the protest, including the blocking of the protestors;
• The removal of these vehicles from the protest;
• The discovery by members of the Office of the Governor, including Governor Parnell, of (a) the protest and (b) the Department of Administration’s sending of vehicles, blocking protestors, and removal of vehicles;
• The direction by Governor Parnell or his Office to the Department of Administration “to look into the matter”;
• The Department of Administration’s “look[ing] into the matter”;
• Governor Parnell’s direction, or the direction by his Office, to the Department of Administration to “ensure it doesn’t happen again”;
• Guidelines, rules, or similar policies about protests, which were effective on Tuesday, April 2 or Wednesday, April 3, 2013; and
• Guidelines, rules, or similar policies about protests – including those that are being developed and have not yet been implemented – that post-date April 3, 2013.
Surprisingly omitted from the ACLU’s requests is any question related to the removal of a pro-life sign from the street adjacent to the capitol as well as to the alleged assault of a disabled man by a government employee.
The ACLU should also seek any information sent by Department of Administration computers to news sites, such as Restoring Liberty, defending the State’s efforts to block the protest or to criticize the publicity given to the State’s interference with the pro-lifers. Restoring Liberty has evidence that multiple submissions, critical of this site or defensive of the State’s actions, were made from Department of Administration computers.
Hopefully, the ACLU’s actions will help bring accountability to any in state government who used state resources to trample on the First Amendment last week.