Last year two Wisconsin Greens went to Iowa to help Iowa Greens get Cynthia McKinney on the ballot. They hit Iowa City, and several other cities, before going to Davenport, IA for the Bix Street Fest, a large event with lots of people – ideal for gathering signatures. Event organizers DavenportOne confronted the petitioners and tried to force them to leave the streets of Davenport. They called the police.
The ACLU of Iowa took up the case and now the Green Party of the United States, The Wisconsin Greens and the Green Party of Iowa are suing Davenport for violating their first amendment rights to petition.
Ballot Access News reported on this earlier today:
On June 26, the Green Parties of Iowa and Wisconsin jointly filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Davenport, Iowa. The issue is the city’s policy of banning petitioning at its annual street fair, the Bix Street Fest. The ACLU is representing the parties. The case is Bussiere v Davenport, southern district, 3:09-cv-101.
The incident that prompted the lawsuit arose last year, when Green Party volunteers were collecting signatures in Davenport to get Cynthia McKinney on the ballot. The city believes that the organization that sponsors the street festival has a right to curtail First Amendment activity on public streets during that festival. The city lost a similar case in 1999 over the same issue.
It was also reported in the Quad City Times:
The lawsuit, which lists the city, its police department and DavenportOne as defendants, was filed on behalf of Jill Bussiere and Monte LeTourneau, both Wisconsin residents, as well as the national and Wisconsin and Iowa Green parties. The suit alleges the city and DavenportOne violated the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to petition.