COURT VICTORY FOR LOCAL ACTIVIST-Andrew Stelzer03/15/04
In a story weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been following here at WMNF, a local activist has had charges against him dismissed. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the end of a year and a half long legal struggle; WMNFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Andrew Stelzer has more.
Anthony Lorenzo was arrested in October of 2002, for passing out flyers on the street in Ybor city. The main message of the flyers was for the legalization of marijuana, they also promoted the libertarian party, and had a small advertisement for a restaurant which helped pay for the flyers.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“The police gave me any opportunity to put away my flyers, but I was on Public Street. The police had previously told me I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t swear on a public street. We were offered a deal to pay court costs I Ã¢â‚¬Â¦protected by the constitutionÃ¢â‚¬?
Luke Lirot is LorenzoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lawyer; he argued that passing out flyers is precisely the type of action the first amendment was written to protect.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wish that more officers had a working knowledge of the constitutionÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.he would not give up his constitutional rights.Ã¢â‚¬?
Lirot believes that police targeted Lorenzo because the flyers had to do with the legalization of marijuana.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“Its not uncommon that law enforcement agencies take a negative view of people who try to change thingsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I intend.Ã¢â‚¬?
Lorenzo says he feels he has a duty to do what he can, and hopes he can inspire other people to stand up for their rights.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“I chose to continue fighting this so that the next person who has a disagreement with laws can Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬?
Although the state of Florida will not appeal the case, Lorenzo says he is not done with legal action stemming from this incident. Through this experience, Lorenzo found out that when a citizen files a complaint against a police officer, there is no form to fill out, and no record is kept of the complaint if the officer in internal affairs determines its not valid. Because of this, there may be dozens of complaints filed against an individual officer, but if none of them are followed up on, each complaint will register as the first. Lorenzo says he is planning to try and get a bill passed by the state legislature to change this process, in order to make police more accountable to citizens.
For WMNF news, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m Andrew Stelzer