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Black Lives Matter supporters object to Howard invoice, citations

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – Emotions flared during the village board’s public comment period Monday, Sept. 14, when the board spent about a half hour hearing from supporters of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters who held a July 28 march in Howard.

They objected to the protest march organizer being issued an invoice totaling around $7,000 for traffic control/security, as well as municipal citations issued to some of the participants for obstruction of traffic.

BLM protests have been held in the Green Bay area in response to George Floyd’s death May 25 when he was in police custody in Minneapolis.

The invoice issued to Hannah Lundin of De Pere for services provided from 5-8 p.m. July 28 includes $3,357 in personnel charges for Brown County and Howard officers and another $3,663 in personnel and equipment charges for the Howard Fire Department.

Lundin was cited for obstruction of traffic on Cardinal Lane near Glendale Avenue with a municipal court date set for Sept. 29, according to a copy of the citation provided to The Press Times.

Attorney David Hassel, who is representing Lundin and other BLM protesters in the Green Bay area, said the invoice and citation sent a message to her to stay out of Howard with future protests.

“Seven-thousand dollars, that’s what it costs to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ in Howard,” he said.

Hassel said having five officers from Howard and another 11 providing assistance from the county sheriff’s office amounted to “16 police officers to deal with 25 to 30 people walking and holding signs and flags in broad daylight.”

“Obviously that wasn’t enough, because the village also called in the fire department for 3,363 additional dollars…,” he said.

Though a municipality may seek actual out-of-pocket costs necessary due to protests, Hassel said the invoice issued to Lundin doesn’t include necessary or actual costs.

“The village was absolutely free to turn this into a circus, if they wanted to,” he said. “They are not allowed to make Ms. Lundin pay for the show.”

Hassel said the protest lasted 2 hours, and there were only two police vehicles present when it began at 5:30 p.m.

“More units were called in as the protest continued through 7:30 (p.m.), again 2 hours,” he said. “There’s certainly no basis to believe the village actually paid nearly 25 people – the same number that were in the protest – for three full hours of work, as necessitated by this protest.”

Hassel said the invoice has nothing to do with reimbursement.

“This is a punishment and a warning,” he said.

Hassel said municipalities typically do not bill protesters for political speech, and he urged the board to rescind the invoice issued to Lundin.

Board members heard from nine other speakers critical of the invoice and citations being issued.

Kellie Delveaux, who said she grew up in Howard and participated in the march, stated BLM protesters were harassed and threatened by counter-protesters.

Kellie Delveaux speaks Monday, Sept. 14, before the Howard village board to object to an invoice for around $7,000 being issued for a Black Lives Matter protest march July 28 in Howard. Kevin Boneske Photo

“The reason so many officers more were called out, I believe, is because at one point someone put on Facebook that when we got to the overpass bridge, things were going to happen to us,” she said. “Those officers were not there because your community needed protection from us. They were there because we needed protection from your community.”

In response to applause for Delveaux’s remarks, Village President Burt McIntyre urged members in the audience not to clap for the speakers.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a performance,” McIntyre said. “We’re allowing you to speak, whichever way. This is an important matter, but clapping is totally inappropriate, and I’m encouraging (you) not to do it. Anyone can speak – we’ll welcome your opinion – but let’s keep it at that.”

Tevin Taylor, the fiancé of Lundin, said he found a $7,000 invoice inappropriate for the protest in Howard.

“What I find inappropriate is that these very police officers and (firefighters) who you had come manage the protest did nothing when people actually came to agitate and aggravate us,” he said. “What I find inappropriate is that I look at every individual and body up here (on the board) and I don’t see not a single Black individual. These are the things that are truly inappropriate.”

Taylor called for rescinding the invoice and vowed to hold the board accountable.

“We are done asking, we are done being polite,” he said. “This is not us asking, this is us demanding that you rescind the $7,000 invoice.”

Lundin also appeared before the board to object to the invoice and citation she received.

“I wasn’t driving a vehicle, but I got an obstruction of traffic citation,” she said. “My fiancé… got a citation as well for obstruction of traffic. He wasn’t driving a vehicle. We have vehicles that lead and trail our protests for our safety, because the police never help us when we protest in these predominantly white neighborhoods.”

Lundin said the invoice and citations reflect the village’s stance related to “seeing change and equality for Black people in the community, and it’s disgusting.”

The invoice Lundin received for the protest march in Howard is about 10 times more than another one issued to her for a BLM protest July 14 in Ashwaubenon, where she refused to pay $763 after public safety officers blocked off streets with the march in progress.

No action permitted

Because the issue of the BLM protest wasn’t on the agenda, Village Administrator Paul Evert said no action could be taken under the state’s open meetings law.

“If you’re waiting for them to do something, there’s nothing they can do on an item that’s not on a posted agenda, under Wisconsin state law,” Evert said. “I know you’re frustrated, but they can’t do anything if they want to do anything.”

His comments drew shouts from a couple of the audience members.

“I would think your attorney would understand this,” McIntyre said about the board not allowed to take action on items not on the agenda.

When contacted at the end of the board’s open session, McIntyre said he will be speaking with Evert regarding the protest as to how the board should handle the matter.

Parade permit requirement

Public Safety Director Ed Janke said the sheriff’s office contacted Lundin prior to the protest in Howard about getting a parade permit to have the streets blocked off for the march, but no permit was obtained.

He said the march would have been handled differently by public safety personnel with a permit allowing the protest on village streets.

Janke said the amount of public safety personnel and equipment used and invoiced for the protest reflected the village not knowing beforehand how many people would participate in the march.

He said the villages of Howard and Ashwaubenon both relied on guidelines from the American Civil Liberties Union related to demonstrations and protests where permits could be required, such as a march or parade that does not stay on the sidewalk and other events that require blocking traffic or street closure.

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