Anti-War Group Fined for Promoting 9/15 Event

The ANSWER Coalition, the progressive organizing group behind the scheduled Sept. 15 anti-war march in Washington, DC, says the city fined the organization in excess of $10,000 for putting up antiwar posters in the nation’s capital.

From the group’s press release:

In an unprecedented action, the ANSWER Coalition today received citations fining the organization $10,000 for the placement of posters announcing the September 15 March on Washington DC. The fines come after a campaign led by FOX news calling for the DC government to take action against those putting up posters for the September 15 demonstration.

They have told us that we have 72 hours to remove every poster, or the fines will go into effect. Tens of thousands of dollars in additional fines are expected in the coming days. Bush’s Interior Department is threatening similar actions against ANSWER. The September 15 posters are legal and conform to city regulations. We will not allow the government’s intimidation tactics to slow our outreach or silence the antiwar movement.

In a just-published activism alert, the coalition asks likeminded anti-war progressives to send letters today to DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and to William Howland Jr., director of the DC Department of Public Works “demanding an end to the fines, harassment and repression of the anti-war movement. We have a right to publicize the September 15 March. Fining the anti-war movement tens of thousands of dollars for putting up Free Speech-protected literature makes a mockery out of the First Amendment.”

NOTE: See the Comments section for some controversy and more information.

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5 thoughts on “Anti-War Group Fined for Promoting 9/15 Event

  1. Well, as I expected the Stalinists in ANSWER (who don’t believe in
    free speech after the Revolution, witness their support for the Soviet
    tanks in Budapest in ’56, crushing a working class revolution which
    had as a primary element, workers councils aka Soviets, and the Soviet
    tanks in Prague in ’68 smashing, “socialism with a human face, ” and
    the CCP’s tanks killing the students of Tienanmen Square in ’91)
    aren’t telling the truth here.
    Just spoke with the DPW in Washington, D.C. ANSWER didn’t apply for
    permits to post, and didn’t follow the regs such as only three posters
    per block, and the allowable spaces on which to post and they used a
    strong adhesive.Public Works Departments nationwide spend a lot of
    money removing posters, months old which the groups putting them up
    had promised to remove after whatever event they were promoting has
    come and gone. Other details, forthcoming when I get the e-mail from
    the DPW.

  2. Thank you, Michael! You beat me to the calls; I had a meeting this morning and just walked in and saw your comment. Please let us know what the DPW says when you hear from the agency. ANSWER is a mixed bag in my experience. There are some great, principled people involved, and some… well, not so much. Progressives are split on the various planks the coalition puts forth. I think what a lot of people do is to focus on the peace and justice part and (try to) ignore the rest. But bringing up the rest is *totally* valid and very much appreciated by at least me (and probably by many more). So thanks again for taking the time to look into the matter further and sharing your findings.

  3. On this very subject, a general statement in response from the ANSWER Coalition:

    We wanted to give you a quick update and provide essential information about the government’s disinformation and misinformation
    campaign. Some activists who have responded to the ANSWER Coalition Action Alert to “Stop Government Attacks Against the Anti-War Movement” and “Defend Free Speech” have been given misinformation when they called the DC Department of Public Works. We
    all know the government lies about the reasons for going to war in Iraq an action which led to the deaths of thousands of U.S. troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people – so we should not be surprised when they lie about other matters.Below are the myths being propagated by the DC Department of Public Works and the facts about the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR) regarding “Signs, Posters and Placards.”Myth: Posters in DC may only be affixed to wood poles using staples.Fact: That is not true. The law states, “Any sign, advertisement, or poster that does not relate to the sale of goods or services may be affixed on public lampposts or appurtenances of a lamppost, subject to the restrictions set forth in this section.” What is a lamp post? The law states that “For the purposes of this section, a ‘public lamppost’ is any
    public post erected for the purpose of supporting electric wires.” The Notices of Violation sent to the ANSWER Coalition from the DC Department of Public Works state that they are for “posting notices on lamppost” and then include photographs
    of posters on traffic boxes. Therefore, DC regulations clearly state that posters may be affixed to both the light posts called lampposts
    and to traffic boxes.Myth: The posters in question have been affixed with a permanent
    adhesive or one that is very time consuming and/or difficult and/or expensive to remove.Fact: This is a complete lie. The law states that “Signs, advertisements, or posters shall be not affixed by adhesives that prevent their complete removal from the fixture, or that do damage to
    the fixture.” Therefore, an adhesive can be used to affix posters as long as it does not “prevent their complete removal” or “do damage.” All posters in question have been affixed with a water-based and water-soluble paste. The posters can be quickly, easily and completely removed for free simply by adding water. Volunteers have in the past removed these posters following events and found that they are removed just as easily and
    quickly as they are affixed.Myth: Regulations in DC are not used to target progressive organizations.Fact: The ANSWER Coalition is being selectively targeted by the
    Government for entirely political reasons. Leading up to elections, politicians including the current Mayor of DC– put up thousands of posters and proliferate DC with advertisements about their
    campaign. These signs hang everywhere in the city by the many dozens at intersections, on every single block, and many are plainly illegally posted including on traffic signs. But to our knowledge, these politicians are not fined or targeted. We are unaware of any other instance where there have ever been massive fines issued to shut down political speech.The government supports certain forms of postering and political
    speech, that of the politicians and approved elections. However, those who are calling for an end to the war and for the ultimate form of
    grassroots democracy and public participation in free speech a mass demonstration opposing the government’s war program are being hit with the weight of the government to stop them.The truth is that the government, and in this case it is a combination of the local and federal government, are acting politically and thus in an unconstitutional manner. Suddenly, on the eve of a massive anti-war demonstration scheduled for September 15 and timed to coincide with the report by General David Petraeus that will be used to justify the prolongation of a war that the country has turned against, the government is choosing to impose huge fines for literature that is being posted lawfully.That is why thousands of anti-war activists from around the country are sending letters, emails and making phone calls to the District of Columbia insisting that they stop the selective attack of the ANSWER Coalition and the anti-war movement. We encourage everyone to ask their friends, family members, co-workers and students to go to to participate in this important campaign and not to believe the government’s lies and justifications for their illegal and unconstitutional attempt to disrupt the September 15 organizing effort.

  4. I am a Washington, DC resident and a staunch opponent of the Iraq war.
    I am also very disturbed by ANSWER’s lack of concern for
    the quality of life and waste of the tax dollars of DC residents.

    The posters they have affixed to public property are not, as they
    allege, easily removed. Having read their claim that they are, I
    attempted to remove one – one affixed, illegally, to a traffic light
    switch box – and it took me 15 minutes. The cost to taxpayers for the
    Dept. of Public Works (DPW) to remove all of your posters is an undue
    burden. Further, their claim that you have removed similar posters
    following past marches is questionable at best; there are numerous
    ones still up all over town from over a year ago.

    I am also puzzled at ANSWER’s virulent criticism of the Fenty
    Administration as being in the pockets of Fox News and the Bush
    Administration. Not only is Washington, DC, in general, one of the
    country’s most progressive municipalities, but Mayor Fenty, in
    particular, has made his anti Iraq war position unmistakably clear on
    multiple occasions. In this light, it is utterly preposterous for them
    to claim that Fenty is out to get them for your political views.

    ANSWER’s characterization of DPW and Fenty as “liars” conspiring against
    them is an instance of astounding paranoia and/or crass, dishonest PR.
    Their advocacy for human rights abroad, but disregard for the rights of
    their fellow citizens is rank hypocrisy.

  5. Fenty is definitely on record with his opposition to the occupation. And I will add my eyewitness experience that ANSWER posters have a ridiculously long shelf life; ancient ones are all over DC and even here in Baltimore. And you’re right — they are an eyesore and are tough as hell to remove. And frankly, I think Mayor Fenty has way more important things to contend with than launching a smear campaign against an activist group. I won’t say it’s impossible, especially in times where the feds and some government officials DO regularly and unconscionably target those who dissent, but I have a hard time believing Adrian Fenty is of that ilk.

    Personally, as I’ve noted many times, I have mixed feelings about ANSWER. Call it a like-loathe relationship.

    Hey, ANSWER gave a response, which I appreciate, so I posted it to allow readers to make their own decisions.

    And I certainly appreciate your response too, thanks for sharing it. It is VERY important in the pursuit of truth to get as many viewpoints as possible. Truth is the only prism through which we should examine anything, be it the Bush administration or ostensible allies.

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