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July 28, 2014 at 5:41 PM

School district can’t ban Horace Mann protesters from meetings

 

Longtime activist and school occupier Omari Tahir-Garrett may appear on the speakers’ list at the next Seattle school board meeting in August.

A King County Superior Court judge has ruled that the Seattle school district cannot ban Tahir-Garrett and other protesters arrested for trespassing at the Horace Mann school building from attending public meetings on district property.

Judge Kimberley Prochnau ruled Friday that the district must allow Tahir-Garrett, Gregory Lewis and Leith Jasinowski-Kahl to attend all public meetings held on district property. They had argued that the prohibition violated their federal and state free speech rights.

Last November, Seattle police arrested those three and a fourth man, ending a protest that began last August when several groups that work with African-American youth refused to leave the Mann building.

The Seattle school district hadn’t been using the building, at the corner of East Cherry Street and 24th Avenue, as a school for four years, but wanted to renovate it for the Nova Alternative High School, starting in the fall.

The district spent months working out arrangement with most of the groups that had been offering classes in the building, which resulted in construction delays.

Most cleared out, but the last protesters held out even after the district shut off electricity to the property.

The arrests didn’t result in prosecution, but the district informed the men that they were banned from district property for one year and were allowed only written communication with district officials, according to court records.

The district official who issued the prohibitions also denied the plaintiff’s appeal to his decision, so they appealed to King County Superior Court.

 

Comments | Topics: Seattle Public Schools

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