St. Louis Man Arrested for Passing Out Leaflets, Officers Threaten to Take His Children Away
Last week, as I was writing about some of the ways the peoples’ voice is silenced, the St. Louis, Missouri police were busy silencing Gustavo Rendon by taking away his first amendment right to free speech. Gustavo was arrested for putting leaflets on his neighbor’s windshields urging them to fight eminent domain abuse regarding a local development project. Before arresting him, the officers threatened to put his children in foster care if he didn’t take back the leaflets he had already passed out.
The charges against Rendon - a former city police officer - were eventually dropped once the city’s attorney realized the arrest was unconstitutional. As Dave Roland from the Show-Me Institute points out:
The bigger problem… is that Mr. Rendon’s arrest is suggestive of a much larger problem: powerful people trying to stop citizens from having their say on important public issues.
He goes on to point out several instances of St. Louis and Missouri officials working to silence the peoples’ voice, many in relation to initiative petitioning, in an interview with KMOX radio, which you can listen to here.
Roland is certainly right about Missouri’s history of being less than friendly to outspoken citizens. Earlier this year Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob traveled to Missouri to help local activists there protect their right to petition government. While state officials may have a history of trying to silence the people, the people have a history of standing up. We doubt this will be the last time they have to.