Jul 3, 2007 — The white supremacist Nationalist Movement, having won smaller skirmishes in appellate court against the City of York, was awarded another victory and almost $50,000 in attorneys’ fees and court costs by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Mississippi-based group, – which began its forays into York after the arrests of several white men, including then-Mayor Charlie Robertson, in 2001 for the 1969 murder of a black woman – had repeatedly challenged the city’s public assembly ordinance.
The dispute between the city and the protesters stemmed from a planned January 2003 rally purportedly in honor of York City Police Officer Henry C. Schaad, who also was murdered in 1969, in conjunction with a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday protest on the steps of city hall.
The event was held, with the city waiving the permit requirement or paying more than a nominal $1 fee because the protest included fewer than 25 participants.
But the Nationalist Movement pushed forward with its civil case, and last year in U.S.
Middle District Court, attorney Richard Barrett successfully argued that two city provisions requiring insurance coverage and a security deposit to cover the cost of police protection and city services were unconstitutional.
Barrett then appealed Judge Yvette Kane’s decision, which upheld a requirement to pay up to $100 for a permit fee and a reimbursement provision, which allows the city to try to recover damages resulting from an event.
In a 14-page opinion issued March 21, Third Circuit Court Judge Maryanne Trump Barry ruled the permit fee is constitutional because it is non-discretionary and “is applied across the board to all prospective users.”
Barry also held that “the reimbursement provision is the flip side of the same count as the unconstitutional security deposit and insurance requirements.” The judge found the provision unconstitutional because it could hold a speaker liable for police costs and damages resulting from the actions of any counter-protesters.
Barry’s order directing the city to pay $47,918 in attorney fees and $729 in costs was issued June 20. The judge rejected Barrett’s request for “double enhancement” of the damages.
Mayor John Brenner said Monday he is meeting with his solicitor to discuss the damages award.
“I will review it and then I will have something to say about it,” Brenner said.
Barrett could not be reached for comment.
THE NATIONALIST MOVEMENT VS. YORK CITY
April 16, 2002: York City Council adopts a public assembly ordinance.
June 14, 2002: The Nationalist Movement, a white supremacist group, submits an application for an event to be held in York on Jan. 20, 2003. In the application, group founder and attorney Richard Barrett argues against the constitutionality of the city’s public assembly ordinance. The city rejects the application for being incomplete.
Oct. 25, 2003: Barrett files a civil suit in U.S. Middle District Court challenging the constitutionality of the ordinance.
Jan. 6-7, 2003: Barrett seeks an expedited federal hearing on his arguments. The city seeks dismissal of the request.
Jan. 10, 2003: The city drops its request and waives its public assembly requirements for Barrett.
Jan. 20, 2003: Outnumbered by anti-racist protesters who were outnumbered by police, the Nationalist Movement rally is held with no serious incidents.
Jan. 30, 2003: The city announces overtime costs for police and public employees for the rally exceeds $12,000.
March 24, 2006: U.S. Middle District Court Judge Yvette Kane rules the city’s public assembly provisions – requiring insurance coverage and a security deposit to cover the police, public works and potential damages – are unconstitutional and unenforceable.
April 7, 2006: Barrett appeals Kane’s decision, which upholds the city’s permit fee and reimbursement provision to recover any damages, to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
March 21, 2007: Judge Maryanne Trump Barry finds the permit fee constitutional and the reimbursement provision unconstitutional.
June 20, 2007: Barry orders the city to pay the Nationalist Movement $47,918 in attorney fees and $729 in costs.