Challenge to City Arbitrarily Charging for Police Presence at March, Yates v. Norwood
When the Richmond May Day Coalition/Organizing Committee applied for a parade permit for its May Day march, the Richmond Police Department said that they had to pay $294 for off-duty police to work the march. But Richmond’s parade ordinance does not authorize the police to charge parade permit applicants for costs. Moreover, the First Amendment requires permitting authorities to have clear, objective standards for charging fees, which the Richmond Police Department does not have. On April 20, 2011, we filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction requesting the court to order the police department to allow our clients’ May Day parade to go forward without paying for off-duty police. The motion for preliminary injunction was denied on April 28, 2011, but we continue to challenge in court the city's right to assess fees without clear authority. The ACLU's overriding concern in this case is that, absent clear rules for charging such fees, the police may apply such charges in a discriminatory manner. Motions for summary judgment have been filed on both sides, and arguments were heard on November 18. On January 11, 2012, the court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment.