Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Trespassing -- Are Those Signatures Valid?

There has been a question about whether the petition-pushers were trespassing when they collected signatures at Giant food stores on the weekend of February 16th and 17th and Monday the 18th, which was President's Day -- or actually on any day besides February 9th and 10th.

The Citizens for a Responsible Whatever have a YouTube video they say shows them being harassed while they collected signatures. Their press release says it was recorded on Monday, February 18th, while signatures were being collected outside the Giant store at the Westwood Shopping Center in Bethesda. On the video Dana Beyer was telling them that an email had been sent out, they were going to be asked to leave, and that the signatures collected there would not be valid. According the CRW, none of this was true. They say they had permission to be there.

We had two comments on this blog yesterday by people we know and trust, an MCPS parent and an MCPS teacher. First, Tish said this:
I phoned the managers of several Giant grocery stores in Montgomery County. They all said the same thing - the company has a policy that allows groups to use the public space on their property only on Saturdays and Sundays on no more than one weekend per month with no more than two people and one table. The store managers I spoke with told me that if the CRG showed up at their stores on Monday they would be asked to leave.

I didn't see Dana saying anything that is not established policy of the Giant grocery chain.

Shortly after that, another comment, this time from Derrick:
I called Giant HQ as well that was their policy (as per Tish's blog roll response).

CRW was trespassing.

Later, Tish elaborated:
The Giant grocery chain has a policy that applies to every community group that wants access to the public space in front of their stores. The policy applies to the Girl Scouts and Boys Scouts when they sell their cookies and popcorn, it applies to the CRW, and it would apply to us if we wanted to set up tables supplying information about what the anti-discrimination code really does. The policy is that a group may have access to the space for one weekend, consisting of one Saturday and one Sunday, per month. The policy does not extend to Monday, even on holiday weekends. I was told told by the store managers that the CRW petitioners had had their days at the stores and that if they came back they would be asked to leave.

The CRW crews who set up at Giant grocery stores more than one weekend in a month and the crews who returned to some Giant stores on Monday were not abiding by the permission granted them. The CRW leadership seems to have failed to tell their volunteers that the permission they received had certain limits which they were obliged to respect.

I'm not sure why that is hard for some CRW supporters to understand.

I'm not going to call Giant to confirm it another time. I know these two people, and their word is good.

There are two points to come out of this. The first point has to do with Dana telling the petition folks that they would be asked to leave. They should have been asked to leave, if the Giant managers were following corporate policy. We don't know if an actual email was sent, but Dana had been told by somebody in the corporate office that one would be, and the email would only have been reiterating company policy. If the managers had followed policy, the petition-pushers would have been asked to leave, email or not.

Second point. The CRW had gathered signatures at Giant stores on the weekend of the 9th and 10th, which was their one weekend per month, okay, that's cool, they had permission to do that. But other days, including the weekend of the 16th and the 17th and Presidents' Day the 18th, they were on company property without permission. If they weren't evicted it is either because the supervisor in charge of the Giant didn't know the company rules, or because that Giant was supporting the re-legalization of gender-identity discrimination.

So the second question concerns the validity of signatures gathered while trespassing. Giant has a very clear one-weekend-per-month rule for using their public space. That's a nice thing to do, they offer something good to the community, it makes sense from a business standpoint and from a good-citizen standpoint. And the policy is clear: one weekend. Not two weekends, not Mondays, even when they're holidays.

The CRW took advantage of the blanket permission for one weekend, as they have the right to do. They stood outside of Giants all over the county -- for two weekends and a Monday that we know about, and probably other days we are unaware of. They were trespassing for all but two of those days, approaching people on private property without permission.

The question is whether signatures collected during the commission of a crime should be considered valid by the Board of Elections. Let's start with gun-to-the-head and work back.


Anonymous OO said...

Actually, they were never trespassing. Giant welcomes all members of the public into their store at all times.

They may have a policy about what the public may do when there but that is between them and the individual. TTF is interjecting itself into a situation inappropriately. Indeed, many of their actions on this weekend were inapproprate by any standard.

My guess is that Giant would be more opposed to groups like TTF causing disturbances outside their stores than to petitioners who might have stayed too long. In at least one case, TTF was asked to leave for that very reason.

February 27, 2008 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your guess is worthless, but thanks for sharing.

February 27, 2008 7:46 AM  
Anonymous OO said...

Actually, what's really worthless is the efforts of Jim and Dana to present themselves as representatives of Giant's imterest.

Whenever CRG was asked to leave by a store manager, they did. Not so for TTF.

February 27, 2008 7:59 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

00, I don't know about anybody else, but the group I was with was only asked once to do anything like "leave." The Arliss Giant told us we had to stay off the curb. That's why you see the picture of Andrea standing in the parking lot. I was with the main group, and nobody told us to leave. It may have happened somewhere else, but not much. You are grasping at straws.


February 27, 2008 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zeus (OO) has once again spoken from on high! Frankly, we are getting tired of his lecturing and rapping of knuckles here, especially in the guise of "interested, non-biased by-stander". Just be honest, Anonymous, and stick to your original identify...whatever that was (back in the days preceding CRC). Pretending to not be one of the CRG clique doesn't buy you any credit here.

February 27, 2008 9:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here we were thinking the only pretender was the "man in the blue dress" that Rio Theresa linked arms with on "testing the law."

Hey, has anyone else thought that since Ruth Jacobs resides in Kentlands/Gaithersburg that she herself may belong to Rio Sport and Health? Setting up that "hoax test" would have been easier that way.


February 27, 2008 12:41 PM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Red Baron said "Actually, they were never trespassing. Giant welcomes all members of the public into their store at all times.".

They were trespassing. Giant's policy is that they were only allowed to use the public space one weekend per month. They weren't supposed to be there the second weekend or the Monday.

Red Baron said "TTF is interjecting itself into a situation inappropriately".

What happened to your insistence that TTF has the right to counter CRW's lies with TTF's free speech? There's nothing inapropriate about TTF exercising its right to free speech.

Red Baron said "My guess is that Giant would be more opposed to groups like TTF causing disturbances outside their stores than to petitioners who might have stayed too long.".

This from the guy talking confidently about "president" Huckabee, and how the Republicans were going to sweep the 2006 federal elections - we've seen your guess isn't worth anything.

February 27, 2008 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I read some of the stories on those far-right websites. One of them refers to Dana as a She/Male. This approaches Fred Phelps level of bigotry.

Dana, in my opinion you're fabulous.


February 27, 2008 5:23 PM  

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