Illegal camping in Little Falls City Park
Once again the City of Little Falls has chosen to discriminate against certain groups or individuals renting Le Bourget Park. It seems they will continue to favor commercial speech over free speech even in the midst of a federal lawsuit. This recent action by the police of allowing citizens to provide their own security is dangerous and illegal. What would these vendors have been authorized to do to protect their goods?
It is the job of the Little Falls Police Department to police the parks, not private citizens. Little Falls Police Department turned a blind eye to an obvious violation of city ordinance 10.20.
The following is an excerpt from a letter I received from the City of Little Falls on April 3, 2012, in preparation for hosting the Central Minnesota Peace and Diversity Fair, to be held on June 22 and 23, 2012: “The City is in receipt of the Facility Use Request Application for Le Bourget Park on June 22 and 23, 2012. The activity noted in the application is a “Gathering/Meeting/Rally”. We would like to draw attention to a couple of provisions in the city code that may or may not apply to your event. Section 10.25 of the City Code prohibits a party of gathering of two or more people between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., from which noise emanates of a sufficient volume so as to disturb the peace. Your application also indicated two person tents would be set up. Section 10.20 of the city code specifically states it is unlawful to “set up tents, shacks, or other temporary shelter for the purpose of overnight camping, nor shall any person leave, after closing hours, any movable structure or vehicle to be used for such purpose, such as a house trailer, camp trailer, camp wagon or the like except as authorized and posted.”
The following is an excerpt from a Little Falls police incident report dated September 8, 2012, 7:44 p.m. “Officers responded to Le Bourget Park on a report or antique vendors that were camping in the park. We arrived and made contact with several subjects. They said they are vendors for the antique fair and were told they could stay there to provide their own security at night. I then spoke with Chief Schirmers and he said that there was an arrangement for the people to do their own security at the park. He said that they were told they cannot be sleeping in the park, that if they are there they need to be doing security. I also spoke with Dave Rausch who is one of the coordinators of the antique fair. He said he understood that the vendors could not sleep in the park and were there to provide security for all of the items in the booths. He said he would go down there and remind everyone there that they cannot be sleeping in the park. While we were on scene we did not encounter anyone that was sleeping in the park.” This violates Section 10.20 city code.