COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The Colorado Springs Police Department says it is investigating an incident in which a signature gatherer was arrested Tuesday at a Safeway.
Police say they arrested an individual and then released him on a summons on a misdemeanor trespass charge. The body-camera footage of the incident was released Wednesday in an attempt to clarify another video posted on social media, according to CSPD.
On Tuesday, officers responded to a trespass call after an individual who was petitioning for signatures did not leave a private property when asked by the business managers.
Upon arrival, the body-camera footage shows officers talking to the signature gatherer for more than 20 minutes, explaining that Safeway is considered private property and asking the person to leave. Police say they arrested the man after he refused to leave.
Another individual at the scene said he had paperwork of a lawyer's opinion on whether or not the business was public or private property.
In response to the arrest and complaints received, police said in a statement: "We understand that there is a lot of uncertainty regarding first amendment rights. However, our officers followed department policies, which are based on criminal law and legal guidance from the City Attorney's Office. We have received complaints from community members regarding this incident, and an Internal Affairs investigation has been initiated."
CSPD also posted the guidance from the City Attorney's Office regarding petitioning. Read the full statement below:
"The Colorado Springs Police Department (“CSPD”) have analyzed and assessed the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision in Westminster v. Bock, 819 P.2d 55, many times since the decision was announced in 1991. The general procedure followed by CSPD is that individuals may not engage in petition gathering activities on private property in the face of an objection from the property owner; however when sufficient government relationships exist which connect public monies to private interests then CSPD may not enforce owners’ trespass notices against petition gathers. CSPD has interpreted sufficient government relationships in terms of private property to include properties that receive tax incentive financing monies or other types of government subsidies. This governmental relationship distinction applies to several large retail properties in Colorado Springs to include:
• First and Main Shopping Center
• University Village Shopping Center
• World Arena
• Shops at Briargate
CSPD also does not enforce trespass notification as to petition gathering activates at Chapel Hills Mall and the Citadel Mall. Finally petition gathers are welcome to collect signatures at State, City or County owned properties such as the 4th Judicial District Courthouse outside forum, State DMV locations, the Pioneer Museum gazebo and public forum area, public libraries, and City Hall just to name a few examples.
Please note that per the Bock decision private properties that do have a sufficient governmental interest to allow petition gathering may “impose reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on the conduct of” petition gathers. Petition gathers should contact the retail management of these properties to inquire if property owners have instituted time, place and manner policies pertaining to petition gathering on their properties."