1st Amendment News

Man with impeach Obama sign arrested at Alaska State Fair

Police arrested at man at the Alaska State Fair carrying a sign calling for the impeachment of President Barack Obama. The fair allows political messages if citizens rent a booth and follow vendor guidelines but forbid political activities in common areas. -db

Anchorage Daily News
August 28, 2010
By Kyle Hopkins

Ten minutes of mayhem Thursday at the Alaska State Fair — caught on video and posted on YouTube — jump-started an Internet debate on free speech this week and landed a familiar roadside activist in jail.

Palmer police arrested Sidney Hill, 52, for assault, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, police commander Thomas Remaley said.

Fair marketing director Dean Phipps said Hill is known for waving signs near the Carrs grocery store in Palmer and apparently carried a large banner into the nearby fair Thursday. It read “LaRouche says Impeach Obama Now.”

The fair has an unwritten policy against people campaigning in common areas, Phipps said. The YouTube clip shows Hill clashing loudly with security guards before being forced to the ground and eventually arrested.

Phipps said Hill became aggressive and belligerent, trying to incite the crowd when security guards approached him. Some fairgoers said Hill didn’t appear to be causing problems.

“He was just walking around with a sign,” said Wendy Lewis of Anchorage.

The photographer, identified on YouTube as Brian Stanfill, described what he saw in an e-mail: “(Hill) was peacefully displaying his message without yelling or heckling other fair patrons until the fair security personnel approached him and grabbed his sign and then him.”

Phipps defended the use of force by security guards seen in the clip.

“The initial attempt was to educate him and let him know what the rules were, and he became belligerent. They felt that they were assaulted … and then responded to that.”

The fair is on private property, owned by the non-profit Alaska State Fair Inc. If people want to deliver a political message — on abortion or Pebble Mine, for example — they’re expected to rent a booth and follow vendor guidelines, Phipps said.

Security told fair officials that Hill had been swinging the sign around, so that people, including kids, had to dodge it, Phipps said.

Remaley, the police commander, said Hill also possessed a handgun, which is not allowed on the fairgrounds.

The video begins with Hill yelling “This is public access!” and that he has free speech and ends with him walking away in handcuffs with police.

In between, Hill can be seen tangling with security, telling another man he’s “a worthless hippie” and calling on the crowd for help. Security hold Hill to the ground as he yells. An off-duty state trooper steps in to keep the crowd back.

Hill’s banner referenced Lyndon LaRouche, a political activist who has run for U.S. president.

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31 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Cinaed
    August 31, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

    I live in Palmer and I would like everyone to ask themselves: If Mr. Hill REALLY had a gun, why hasn’t he been duly charged? He was charged with Assault even though he didn’t assault anyone, if in fact he had a fire arm in an area forbidden, ON private property as they keep reminding us… where is the gun and where is the charge? Such a charge would explain the excessive force. Why isn’t anyone asking this question?

    Disgusted Palmer Citizen

  2. Seairail
    September 1, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    “The fair has an UNWRITTEN policy against people campaigning in common areas”. Is this akin to something like being put on double secret probation whereby only the authorities are privy to such rules? It sure would make a helluva lot of sense to have this information POSTED at all the entrances to these grounds. It certainly could have avoided this extremely negative spectacle of GESTAPO tactics being employed at an event that is family orientated

  3. Mattias
    September 8, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    Actually, if you’ve ever paid attention, all the above stated rules are posted at every entrance to the fair, and anyone who bothers to ask if they can bring their propaganda onto said private property is told they will have to register as a vendor and follow the fair’s SOP. I am a (both uniformed and plainclothes) fair security officer and this gentleman got off lucky. Our standards and procedures allow us to do a lot more to an individual in possession of a firearm, and all of the courses of action followed, and even the ones that would have ended even worse for this gentleman, are all legal under Alaska state law and are all known to PPD (with whom we work in close conjunction. Don’t act like you’re making this an argument of civil rights. United States and Alaska laws allow you to create and enforce certain policies on private property. And in buying any ticket or pass, if you would read the fine print, you would see that you are subject to all of these policies and where to get ahold of them so you are aware what you can and can’t do. I enforced policies just yesterday that would anger you even more than this incident. Don’t bring your agenda to someone else’s door just because you think you’re a patriot- you’re not. You’re a criminal.

    Secondly, the fair has a *very* lenient policy on enforcing their policies. For example, I incapacitated a young lady who tried to hit me with her vehicle while intoxicated. I was advised to not press charges (which I didn’t plan on doing.) We don’t want to take something that we can let off as a slap on the wrist and a couple years of the subject being on trespass for the fairgrounds and turn it into a felony. If we took the weapons charge all the way, this gentleman would never be allowed to legally own one for the rest of his life.

    We really don’t appreciate people talking out of their asses, in a manner of speaking, with no real idea of what’s going on, because they think that their comrades are being accosted unfairly.

  4. Jerome Bashinski
    September 8, 2010 at 1:22 am #

    This man never assaulted anyone and his actions in the at least not those shown in the video, don’t approach disorderly conduct. I haven’t the faintest idea of what elements are required to commit criminal mischief.

    Neither the written nor the unwritten policies of a private agency have the weight of law. Even policies of public agencies are not law. Laws, like the ones for which the man was arrested, must be passed by elected bodies. And, whether or not the Fair would be classified as a private as opposed to a public event is at the very least questionable.

    In addition, the man was not campaigning for anyone. He was requesting that President Obama be impeached. If the video actually documents everything that occurred, the Anchorage Daily News reporter that wrote this article labeling his activity as mayhem is ridiculous in the extreme.

    I hope this man has competent legal assistance. I suggest that this man plead not guilty and require a jury trial. I think it is extremely unlikely 12 regular citizens will convict him of anything. Once his trial is over, he should file civil actions against the Fair Commission and personally against each of the officers involved in the physical assault. I am sure another jury will definitely award him enough to buy many new signs. And hopefully the security guards and the Fair Workers will be much less aggressive in the future.

    I will be happy to contribute to this man’s legal defense fund should such a fund ever be established.

    jere

  5. Brandon
    September 12, 2010 at 5:28 am #

    Sidney Hill may be a complete moron, but last I checked, that’s not a crime, nor should it be. It’s fully protected by the First Amendment!

  6. mike
    September 12, 2010 at 10:04 pm #

    mattias, you scare the hell out of me with your GESTAPO talk and actions. you say that you could have done a lot more to this man because he had a weapon, what exactly do you have the right to do to someone just because they have a weapon on them, did he pull the weapon on you or anyone during this incident or are you so full of yourself (being a big time Fair security officer)that you can read your standards and procedures manual and assualt these patriots ( oh excuse me, you said anyone with an agenda is a criminal not a patriot, I wonder what our founding fathers would say about that)you make me sick you piece of crap, oh by the way the second amendment gives him the right to have a weapon. Come try to take mine you big bad security guard.

  7. Joan Hellyer
    September 14, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    I’ve watched the video four times now and never saw Mr. Hill raise a hand to anyone beyond pulling away from the security officer that grabbed his arm.

    The rent-a-cops should have kept their hands off and let state police determine if Mr. Hill was in violation of any laws. Trained police officers know how to de-escalate these types of situations. Clearly, the security officers lacked that ability.

    I don’t have a law degree but the video compels me to believe that Mr. Hill was the only one assaulted. Given the size of those security officers, it’s a wonder they didn’t break his bones or suffocate him while they violently pinned him to the ground. Was Hill attacked because his political views differed from their own, or were they as it appeared, just looking for someone they could bully and manhandle?

    One thing is certain, lawyers are lining up hoping to retire on their share of the lawsuits to be filed on Mr. Hill’s behalf.

  8. lynn cress
    September 15, 2010 at 1:21 am #

    I kept wishing the crowd would rush forward and help him! Did the officers get chastised? Did it make the news? Why didn’t anyone help him. You know the saying, if you don’t help, there will be no one to help when they come after you! I agree with Joan – hope the lawyers make a mint off the lawsuits sure to follow! Please keep this in the major media!!

  9. Carolyn
    September 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    And where is OUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH here? I will be happy to contribute to Mr. Hill’s legal defense team.
    This is a good example to what is happening to our country and our AMERICAN rights. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  10. Rob
    September 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    I’m in. Where do I sent the money for Mr Hill’s legal defense? Unwritten Policy, or “Fine Print” doesn’t make any excuse they use right. Any competent lawyer would have a field day with this. This guy may not be any saint or may be a pain to some people, but we all have rights in America and the last time I checked, Alaska was still the United States. This guy was wronged and Fair Security as well as the Palmer Police Department should be ashamed of themselves. I guess there’s nothing to do in Alaska, even though I’ve been there? This man’s case should be dropped and a written apology already in the works. If law enforcement wants to enforce something, then let the people know loud and clear and not hide it. And, I agree with mike, “mattias, you scare the hell out of me”.

  11. DOC
    September 21, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    Mattias sounds like a security guard. Not enough ability to be a real policeman but a real need for power. A fair security officer indeed! Do those people have police powers in Alaska? The terrorist had a gun? How come the two fat boys holding him down with his right arm twisted all around never found the gun? How long do you have to sit on an “unruly” customer before you let him up?
    Just remember, according to Mattias the constitutional lawyer, if you don’t read all that fine print on the back of your ticket he can whop shit out of you!

  12. dujac
    September 23, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    just imagine if everyone behaved like sid did

  13. Vas\'ka
    September 24, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    Of course, it looks bad, very bad, but since he, Mr. Hill, excersied his First ammendment right on a private property – case closed. The privately employed security guards followed the rules which Hill violated – probably unknowingly.

  14. The Rebel Patriot
    September 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    While I will agree that the man was probably wrong denonstrating at the fair because of their rules, We “DO” dave a freedom of speech. In that case his rights were violated. A 56 year old man as small as he appeared to be “DOES NOT” require three “GOONS” to take him down. Mattias says the man had a gun. So what??? He very probably had a permot to carry it!! How does Mattias know the man had one. From what I saw on rhe video clip, he never once brandished one. Mattias that means if he had a gun,he never drew it,so wake upmand smell the moose droppings,Mattias!! I did not nor will ever vote for Obama. My greatest ambition right now is to see Nancy Pelosi, hitch huking dowm route 66 on her way back to California. I believe this will get so much negative publicity it will be thrown out if not already

  15. mARK
    September 28, 2010 at 12:43 am #

    Cruel and unusual punishment? God for bid an one of our societies elders brandishes a sign to express his opinion at a state fair. This makes me sick. Assault? Possession of a Firearm? Anyone who could possibly buy into this fascism is on the sorely mistaken. I will pray for these barbarians.

  16. Ray
    September 28, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    There is a time for civil disobedience and a time to step up and RIOT if necessary! If I were there I would have lead the charge to overpower the bullies and help Mr Hill! Doing nothing is consent. The crowd should have protected Mr Hill and made sure the constitution is not trampled on. Charged by 5 or 10 angry citizens the rent a cops would have run like the cowards they are and brought the whole thing to a peaceful conclusion. They should have been arrested when the real cops showed up and MUST be FIRED! So should the jerk identifying himself as \

  17. vom
    September 28, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    >> Don’t bring your agenda to someone else’s door just because you think you’re a patriot- you’re not. You’re a criminal.

    >> We really don’t appreciate people talking out of their asses…

    Guess we patriots cannot speak out – we’re only criminals.
    Is Mattias a true Fair Security professional? No. Is Mattias a patriot? No…. Is he ‘talking out of his ass’? You betcha!

    The lack of professionalism by security/law enforcement was monumental – gave me shivers. Is this what we’re in for?

  18. Kris
    September 29, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    Wow a gun yea right there just trying to cover there A##E$ theres no way he had a gun on him.

  19. Lisa Hanks
    September 30, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    Mr. Hill – you simply MUST BRING LEGAL ACTION against everyone involved for the BLATANT civil rights violations. Where I live the fairgrounds are on publicly owned property. Regardless, Free Speech doesn’t end at someone’s property lines. Oh and “unwritten policy” is code for “make something up quick to CYA.” Mr. Phipps – you come off as a weasel. Mr. Mattias – beware of the trying to be the last one eaten – a system that is willing to devour the old and disabled just because they are outspoken can turn on you next for being obese.
    If Mr. Hill has a legal defense fund, please post it here so I can donate $100. Fellow patriots please match me.

  20. John McCarthy
    October 1, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    a) off-duty statie sure disappeared in a hurry
    b) did not see any problem created by accused
    c) has he been formally charged or has this incident died ths quick death
    it deserves?

  21. CEWelch
    October 5, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    I am a big supporter of President Obama. I found the protesters’ sign personally repugnant. However, I would have gone to jail with him as I would not have stood by like the rest of those Alaskan assholes and let that man be treated the way he was.

  22. psmith
    October 5, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    Matthias>> Sounds to me that you’re just talking out of your ass as well as trying to cover your own ass. Watch the video–the man did not deserve the treatment given to him by the fair’s security. Excuse me??? You didn’t arrest an intoxicated woman for trying to hit you? Down here in the lower 48, we find driving while intoxicated and trying to hit another human being with an automobile far more criminal than a man carrying an “Impeach Obama” sign.

  23. Joe
    October 8, 2010 at 12:25 am #

    As a retired police officer who was trained as a professional, I feel the the security guards were excessive in the way that they handled this. The man did not resist so it was not necessary to force him to the ground and pin him like that. They were large enough to cuff him standing up. I guess this is why they are security guards and not real law enforcement officers.

  24. Paul Bobby
    October 9, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    I want an “IMPEACH OBAMA NOW” tee shirt so I can wear it everywhere I go. Would those wannabe goons have made me take it off?

  25. Burrhead
    October 10, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    I agree with Mike, are these guys goons or what?

  26. Burrhead
    October 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm #

    Mattie, What, you couldn’t make it into the police academy so you’re a “Rent A Cop”. Where I live that normally means “Angry, Control Hungry, Wanna Be Policeman”. Get some help, you probably could use it.

  27. Clevenger
    October 11, 2010 at 6:50 am #

    What I find disturbing, being the fact that I am in the U.S. Army and involved with law enforcement, these security guards, including the danger ranger state trooper embarrasses all other law enforcers around the world. I’m appalled as to how that officer acted, and excessive use of force of two fat rent-a-cops sitting on a 56 year old man with apparent disabilities. when the man is holding a sign bigger then him, and limping, then its quite apparent that he was. Additionally, none of the guards, or officers performed any “terry frisk” or search for any weapons before lifting him up. As far as policies are concerned for the park, I would assume that there are no such things as “unwritten” rules. It is either allowed, or it is not. Just like when a park says to sell merchandise you must register here and here only, it erases confusion. There was no disturbance from the individual, and there was no reason for this treatment. For all you morons that think you know law, your wrong, he did have the right to free speech, if they park wanted no displays of controversy, they need to post rules near entrance, not on back of tickets….. Mr Hill I am an American Soldier, and I am proud that I am defending your rights.

  28. Just Richard
    October 11, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    As a former combat marine, all I can say is that I wish I had been present to see the Constitution I fought and bled for trampled on along with Mr. Hill. Had I been there I would have been on those wannabe’s like stink on a skunk! Oorah!!!

  29. H.D.Flagle
    October 14, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    I don’t think I am in Kansas anymore but rather Nazi Germany. Free speech? What free speech? The man carrying the Impeach Obama message was carrying a sign we all need to carry. This so called president has taken our country down the road of no return and sooner or later has to go. Why are liberals so dumb and fail to see it happening to our country? I have no doubt the two fat fake security guards are liberals and dumb ones at that. They probably have “T” shirts with a picture of Pelosi, Reid and Obama hiding his documents in a secret room where they passed the Health Care Bill in the background. I don’t know about you? but I can hardly wait for November 8 2010 to dump these turkeys before thanksgiving.
    I hope a good Lawyer will see this and is sympathetic with Mr. Hill’s attempt to save America before it is too late

    H.D.

  30. DMJ
    October 31, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Two points in support of Mr. Hill and noting the legal violation of his rights under the US and State of Alaska Constitutions.

    1) Article I, Section 5 of the Alaska State Constitution:
    “Every person may freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.”

    Unlike the US Constitution which states a negative command (Congress is disallowed from infringing on free speech), Alaska CLEARLY states an affirmative right (the individual possesses a broad freedom of speech). Mr. Hill was not outside his reasonable expectation of free speech.

    In the matter that this was on private property…
    2) See Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins (1980). This was a case out of California in which it was deemed that a shopping center, though PRIVATE PROPERTY, was OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and therefore a public forum in which ones constitutional rights are protected. The US Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the state’s supreme court recognizing a state’s privilege to broaden the protection of liberties and rights protected by the federal government.

    As Alaska’s free speech clause is EXACTLY that of California’s it is CLEAR that Mr. Hill had an affirmative right to his free speech in the forum of the public State Fair.

    Whoever it was that complained to security (if anyone) or merely the reaction of security by itself, amounts to nothing more than a “Heckler’s Veto” clearly disallowed by the US Constitution and confirmed by interpreteation by the United States Supreme Court.

  31. Metro Mommy
    November 27, 2010 at 6:27 am #

    Has anyone asked why Mr Hill was let in to the state fair with the sign if it was not allowed? I don’t see how he could have hid it. Usually if you try to go in with something that is not allowed they will not allow you entrance. Shame on the state fair of alaska, shame on the rent a cops, and shame on the police who continued this farce! You let someone go for drunk driving, but assault a disable elderly man for holding a sign…Um don’t you think you have your priorities backwards? I would much rather have someone peacefully holding a sign than be on the road with a drunk driver. Hope she was pretty that you are willing to put peoples lives in danger in the parking lots and on the roads. I know that you want people to think the police are to protect and serve but it is just a slogan printed on the side of the car. The police will only do something once some one gets injured instead of protecting them, and serve ha more like violate, abuse, and endanger.