Contested ground in Excelsior (
by Steve Timmer
May 28, 2018, 2:30 PM

What color are your herring, part two

Read part one here. You should, for context.

According to the Lakeshore Weekly News, a couple of organizing groups want to stage a parade and rally in support of gun control measures in Excelsior to be held on July 14th. Not so fast, says Excelsior City Attorney Kevin Staunton. The city is worried about crowd size. We can enforce reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, you know, says the city attorney.

The city’s original knee-jerk reaction was to deny the parade and rally outright. From the article:

He notes the City Council, on May 7, did not deny the permit so much as direct staff to draft a resolution denying the application for consideration at the May 21 meeting. At that meeting, the City Council opted to continue to matter in light of the ACLU involvement.

Yes, the organizers, including Tim Duff, one of the hosts of the Lake Minnetonka area chapter of Drinking Liberally, got in touch with the ACLU which sent the city council in Excelsior a stiff note. In the ACLU’s letter, it was observed that other groups have been given permission to hold similar events in Excelsior. Oh, way smaller, says attorney Staunton. One of the events is a mass baptism in Lake Minnetonka, and another is a triathlon.

Apparently, the two sides are getting together this week to try to iron it out.

But it is interesting to me that in Excelsior one part of the First Amendment seems to be more welcome than another part. Really, the city council tipped its hand when it first sought to call the whole thing off, and now it’s leaving its city attorney to back and fill, make excuses, and limit the event as much as possible.

Nick Zerwas’ bill to penalize First Amendment protesters more heavily than other trespassers, the new Trump gag rule on discussing abortion services (the speech and the abortion both being protected by the Constitution), and now this. Well, and lots of other things, too. There really is nothing new under the sun in the First Amendment suppression department.

You see it practiced again and again by tyrants, both petty and large, trying to shut up people they find inconvenient.

Even the concern about the size of the event is mostly a red herring. Many communities have summer festivals where streets are closed to traffic (and emergency vehicles). Take Edina, for example. Next weekend is the Edina Art Fair. 50th Street is closed for blocks, as is the cross street, France Avenue, from Thursday evening to Sunday evening. It soaks up half the police force strolling around and looking for terrorists. The organizers will tell you that it attracts thousands. But the restaurants and bars like it, so it’s okay. There are at least a couple of other times a year when the 50th and France area is closed to traffic, but again, they’re merchant friendly events.

That’s what drives this, naturally. If the merchants in Edina or Excelsior could declare the whole shopping area private, like the Mall of America, and just permit bead and trinket shows and sing-alongs that attract shoppers, they would. (There used to be a bead shop at 50th and France, but sadly, it’s gone.)

Hopkins has the Raspberry Festival, and I’ll bet Excelsior has something similar, too.

There is also one more teensy irony in this. Kevin Staunton is the city attorney in Excelsior, but he lives in Edina where he sits on the city council which permits the Edina Art Fair. Perhaps the ACLU’s Teresa Nelson and Tim Duff will remind him of that when they get together to discuss the event permit.

Update 5/31: Reader Mike observes:

A quick search finds this site which lists events in Excelsior.

On May 6th they held the Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon which
is a race from Wayzata heading west and south around the lake to Excelsior.
There were more than 2300 runners.

They also have an Apple Day festival, A Crazy Days festival, a 4th of July parade, etc.

In fact, Excelsior had a Memorial Day Parade….earlier today.

LeftMN readers are the best.

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