WICHITA — Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, Gabrielle Griffie organized a protest in Wichita. She was arrested on two counts of unlawful assembly for “noisy conduct.”
Now, the ACLU is questioning the constitutionality of the city ordinance that led to Griffie’s arrest. The ACLU is arguing that her First Amendment rights were violated and the Kansas Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments in the case.
Griffie said she wants the municipal ordinance, for which she was arrested for violating, struck down. The ordinance in question deals with unlawful assembly and classifies “engaging in noisy conduct tending reasonably to arouse alarm, anger or resentment in others,” as a misdemeanor crime.
Criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat argues the ordinance is too vague.
“With a vague term like this ‘noisy conduct’ that’s in the municipal ordinance, doesn’t that vague term threaten, even chill your right of expression and free speech?’” Monnat questioned.
ACLU of Kansas Legal Director Sharon Brett said the organization got involved to support Griffie. She said the ordinance for which Griffie was arrested could be used to stop free speech.
“We have serious concerns that law enforcement would use this statute to crack down on dissent, to essentially target people who are speaking a message that law enforcement doesn’t agree with,” Brett said.
That’s what Griffie said happened to her.
“The number one thing that they want to control is their image. When you’re out here protesting the police displaying their actions in a negative light, they don’t want that. Of course, they don’t want that, and they have the power to take you out of that position.”
The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments on this case at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. As of Monday, the City of Wichita declined to comment.
See full interview at KWCH.com