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Alameda City Attorney Says Restrictions on 4th of July Parade Entrants is Legal

Alameda City Attorney Teresa Highsmith has told Action Alameda News that City prohibitions against political candidate floats in the the Fourth of July parade is legal, given that the parade is a “limited public forum” and there are other avenues for political candidates to exercise their right to free speech along the parade route.

A June 21 opinion letter signed by the City Attorney notes that Alameda’s Fourth of July parade is the second largest in the nation and has the longest parade route. This year the City of Alameda gave $10,000 to the parade committee, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, to make sure the parade takes place. However, some have complained that the parade committee is able to deny local political candidates from participating in the parade as an official float entrant.

The opinion letter (see below) explains that the parade is a “limited public forum” and that the parade organizers may deny entrants who advocate a political message because political advocacy is not consistent with the home-town, family-fun purpose of the parade.

Additionally, the Attorney confirmed for Action Alameda News that even though political advocates might be precluded from officially entering the parade with a float, because the parade is held on public property, those advocates could still march along the parade route and exercise their rights.

Ms. Highsmith wrote:

You are correct in noting that even if entrants/floats which advocate for a particular candidate or ballot measure may be permissibly restricted from entry into the Mayor’s 4th of July parade, there is no restriction on anyone’s ability to march along side the parade route with signs which advocate or campaign. The sidewalk is a traditional public forum, unlike the Mayor’s 4th of July Parade which is a limited public forum.

Accordingly, there are ample alternative channels for anyone’s political campaign speech at this event, simply by standing or walking along the parade route, so long as the spectator does not interfere with the parade itself.

Additionally, the City Attorney has asserted that because the City does not intend for the donated $10,000 to support any candidacy or ballot measure, it’s appropriate for the parade committee to deny official participation to those who wish to advocate for a particular candidate or position on a ballot measure from the parade.

Restrictions on 4th of July Parade

2 comments to Alameda City Attorney Says Restrictions on 4th of July Parade Entrants is Legal

  • Lee White

    Dear Mayor:

    Of course your city attorney believes it’s perfectly appropriate to keep political candidates from displaying signs in the Fourth of July parade. She works for incumbents like YOU who want to keep their jobs and move up to a fatter government pension someday. Ironic, isn’t it, that on a day set aside to celebrate freedom, elected and appointed public officials (you and your slimy mouthpiece) are doing everything they can to silence opposing political speech? I noticed that you and the other members of the council were able to ride in the parade with your names and titles emblazoned on your vehicles. Opposing candidates weren’t allowed to do the same. Legal? Maybe, maybe not. Fair? Hell, no. The leadership of your community reminds me of where I grew up. That town had a city attorney who also couldn’t tell the difference between “legal” and “moral.” He drank himself to death. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say! Remember, there is a bit of karma that attaches to the decisions those in power make. Abuse your power as you have in this instance and the Universe will sooner or later even the score. That you apparently have not grasped this concept despite a fair amount of life experience makes me feel very sorry for the citizens of Alameda.

    Sincerely,

    Lee White,

    Concord

  • LARoth

    I was really surprised that the”cowboys and floozies” on horses following the NRA truck were shooting pistols. Were they part of the NRA “exhibit”? Those horses jumped every time a gun went off. You’re concerned about politicians shooting off their policies in a parade? How did these dufuses pass that test? Hope you rethink this policy in light of the Bellevue, IA incident.

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