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Colorado Springs police investigating arrest of signature gatherer at Safeway

arrest signature gatherer social
Colorado Springs Police Department

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."

Crime / Local News / News
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Zachary Aedo

Zach is a reporter for KRDO and Telemundo Surco. Learn more about Zach here.

Comments

11 Comments

  1. These people target minorities for voter registration. They assume they are potential Dem voters.
    But please, give your personal information to some stranger in a parking lot.

    1. Interesting assumption. Nothing wrong with voter registration, is there? Besides it wasn’t voter registration, it was signature collection for putting issues on the ballot. Nothing wrong with that, either. It’s what democracy is all about.

      1. True except when asked to leave you’re supposed to leave and if the cops show up you definitely better leave.

  2. This law protects us from someone running a petition drive right outside your door.
    It does not stop anyone from using taxpayer-funded property to collect signatures.
    What part of that does anyone NOT understand ???

  3. The same thing happened recently when I was at King Soopers on Uintah. The store manager said store policy did not allow political activity on their property. I pointed out that it was not political activity – it was democracy in action. Funny that both incidents involved Black men. I took out my phone and the manager said it was against policy to video on their property, too. I emailed King Soopers corporate asking about their policies and never got a response. I have never seen signature gatherers harassed in this way before, but of course, they were always white.

    1. Hmmmmm, as in the managers are always white or the targets are always white, or the signature gathers are always white.

      The real problem is where they gather to collect signatures not so much anyone’s skin color. There are places for this and a store front is NOT one of them.

      Personally, I refuse to do any more than say hello to any signature gather as I walk by them. Even if I agree with their premise for gathering that signature. If/when they show up at my door step, I open my door wide with my Doberman glaring at them. I have signs on my door that says NO SOLICITOR’s. The worst thing is and this has happened to me, If they bar my movement then they are essentially impeding / infringing on my rights and I DO have the right to protect myself as you do as well.

    2. I’ve seen white gatherers removed. I’ve asked for white gatherers to be removed. I walked into the King Soopers and complained to the manager that petition gatherers (who were white) were bothering people in the parking lot. White or not don’t bother me in a parking lot.

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