portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary portland metro

corporate dominance | human & civil rights | imperialism & war

FREE SPEECH IN TIGARD?

Does the First Amendment apply in Tigard? Should a management corporation be allowed to compel a tenant to remove antiwar signs from a window?
My wife and I rent an apartment on Bull Mountain Road in Tigard. Since the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003, we have posted several signs expressing our opposition to the war, in the window of our bedroom, facing our parking area. Today we were told, by a representative of the management corporation that owns the complex, that we "must" remove the signs. We refused, on the grounds that it would infringe upon our moral and constitutional right to free speech. The management representative responded by strongly implying that we would be evicted if we did not comply. Although we are not looking for a fight, and we would prefer not to be evicted from an apartment that we have enjoyed for nearly four years, we are committed to standing up for our own rights. If individuals are not willing to challenge the power of corporations, our so-called freedom will become nothing more than an illusion. Should a corporation have the right to overrule the First Amendment? Is free speech possible only if corporations allow it? As things have turned out in this country, Big Brother is not the government. Big Brother is the many corporations that rule every moment of our lives. The Bush administration is simply a puppet show. The puppet master is a corporation.

Two things come to mind 17.Jun.2005 18:58

Monochromo

1. Some cities and communities may actually have ordinances regarding putting anything in windows of apartments or large buildings. I think single family homes in just about all communities are exempt from these types of ordinances though. It not just political speech, it could be like for an advertisment, for example. You may want to contact the City of Tigard about this.

2. Does your rental agreement say anything about prohibiting displays of any kind in your windows? The apartment could claim property rights in this case.

It sucks, I know. Just some thoughts, hope that helps.

Maybe Contact CAT 17.Jun.2005 20:45

DJ Shadow

CAT--the Community Alliance of Tenants might have advice for you, they are good people.

Website:  http://www.aracnet.com/~cat/

Hotline: 503-288-0130

Good for you for standing up and good luck!

read your lease 17.Jun.2005 23:04

read your lease

read your lease

get counsel

my opinion is if you are in the bounds of your lease you should consider a counter suit claimind breach of contract as well as harasment. On the otherhand beware of the dangers that pride has to offer.

peace..

Furthermore 18.Jun.2005 02:50

free speech?

It will make a difference if you have a lease agreement that is for a period of time or is month to month. If your lease is month to month, they can just give you your thirty days notice and evict you at the end of thirty days. You will have more rights if you have a lease for a period of time.

I'd like to reiterate the things the two previous posters said, and add one more resource. The landlord-tenant hotline: (503) 288-0317. I think that's their phone number anyway...

wow 18.Jun.2005 06:28

z3r0b0y

fairhousing.org

Look 18.Jun.2005 12:46

sorry

This country's Freedom is already nothing more then an illusion.

It has been for some time now.

US Supreme Court said ok 18.Jun.2005 15:16

Arizona Resident

The U.S.A Supreme Court ruled about dozen years ago that ANYBODY can have ANY sign in their window,irregardless of what the C.C.& R,ie Rules,say in "Communities",ie Apartments,Townhouses,ect.

Learned about it on local PBS show,then went to A.S.U. Law College(before Internet)got copy of & read thru it. It stems from a lady with Peace/Anti-War sign in her window in apartment that landlord said No. She toke it to the USA Supreme Court & won!


Anybody to do further research,search USA Supreme Court rulings about dozen years ago or so.

The Bill of Rights Can Not Be Limited By Landlords or Private Contracts 18.Jun.2005 17:51

xyster xysterxxavier@comcast.net

Blood was not spilled during the revolutionary war just so that a non-living legal construct, a corporation, could limit natural human rights as defined in the U.S. Bill of Rights.
 http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/charters/bill_of_rights.html
If the contract the tenant signed stated that the landlord can enter the premises at any time and shoot the tenant, that clause or section is obviously not valid and enforceable.


You have Many Avenues To Send the Message 18.Jun.2005 23:08

Ben Waiting

I support your statement and your dedication to spread the Truth!
Sometimes we have to pick our battles

You need a place to live so tread lightly in loosing your place and consider is it worth it
You can make many powerful statements many other places that..
Have just as much effect if not maybe more...you have a good spirit!

I think you need your home .....and then work on all these sneaky bastards....
from a strategic point of action without letting them shut you out

Peace and The power of the People be with Your Endeavours to Speak The Truth

Response to article: "Free Speech in Tigard" 19.Jun.2005 02:15

njohnson

Something similar happened to me in southeast Portland. I have had a Bush/Alfred E. Newman-morph picture up in the kitchen window of my apartment since before the B-man was elected. Nothing was ever mentioned about it, and it remains there still. However, when I put my Kerry stickers up in the same window, I got a written notice asking that I remove them. Hmmm...

Take it as you will 19.Jun.2005 10:27

arm chair lawyer

Read your lease if you have one to see if it gives your management company the right to do this. If not, contact one of the tenant resource groups already mentioned. The county circuit court should have some handouts summarizing Oregon's landlord tenant laws too, but you can also look at the Oregon statutes online on Oregon's website (just search for Oregon Revised Statutes) to see if any statutes address this situation.

Because its not a government action, the first amendment has no bearing on your situtation. Private contacts, like leases, govern the relationship between private parties and you can very well contract away your right to speek freely (ie, many employment contracts contain clauses prohibiting employees from disclosing trade secrets). These types of agreements are perfectly valid in most instances unless they are unreasonable.

Freedom can not be contracted away, anymore than slavery can be enforced by law 20.Jun.2005 03:40

xyster xysterxxavier@comcast.net

Freedom can not properly be "contracted away," any more than a contract for indentured servitude or slavery can be enforced by law.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Whatever one's view of the Doctrine of Corporate Personhood,
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood
there can be no doubt that Congressional legislatures, at both the state and federal levels, chartered Corporations; the Railroads in the 19th century, and more recently Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, are a few examples that spring to mind. In so doing, Congress, populated mostly by lawyers, constructed and maintained legal entities many citizens still sheepishly recognize as legally permitted to curtail Constitutional rights (via corporate non-disclosure agreements, for instance). No clause in a Private contract between a Person, and a Corporation, may abridge freedom of speech or any other right codified in the Constitution and it's amendments, because the Congress, in violation of their sworn duty, made laws abridging our First Amendment rights when they chartered Corporations without observing the due diligence and oversight required to ensure that the People's Constitutional rights would be preserved, in accordance with the demands of the Bill of Rights.
It should be considered that corporations, and proprietor businesses, are animals of entirely different stripe. The owner of a local business has a personal motivation to take care of their consumers and workers alike, and refrain from the wanton fraud and malfeasance endemic to the corporate culture. Most proprietor businesses began as extensions of the owner's personal interest - even concerned, hippies, run capitalist businesses selling tye-dyes and beads at the Saturday Market. Businesses typically die with their proprietors, or are sold to interested parties or heirs who continue the traditions, and uphold standards; corporations simply keep going like the Energizer Bunny, changing top management everytime their publicly-held stock takes a dip. Unfortunately, corporations in the past century have consumed most local businesses, or simply out-competed on price. Corporate officers during any rotation have little personal incentive to invest in anything but very short term capital gains.
Therein lies our current "capitalism" problem, so widely mischaracterized on both the political left and right. Commerce is a natural outgrowth of human relations. For thousands of years, commerce spontaneously arose wherever people met to trade, evolving naturally into barter markets and later capital economies. Commerce capitalism is natural and good; corporate capitalism is not natural, perhaps served a purpose for a time, but now corporations can grow no bigger before themselves becoming trans-national governments accountable to no sovereign nation. It is time corporations, as legal entities, are dissolved, leaving proprietor-owned businesses whose size can be self-limited to the finite lifespan of the owner.

 http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=118&invol=394
"By an act of the legislature of California, passed April 4, 1870, to aid in giving effect to the act of congress relating to the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, it was declared that 'to enable the said company to more fully and completely comply with and perform the requirements, provisions, and conditions of the said act of congress, and all other acts of congress now in force, or which may hereafter be enacted, the state of California hereby consents to said act; and the said company, its successors and assigns, are hereby authorized to change the line of its railroad so as to reach the eastern boundary line of the state of California by such route as the company shall determine to be the most practicable, and to file new and amendatory articles of association; and the right, power, and privilege is hereby granted to, conferred upon, and vested in them to construct, maintain, and operate, by steam or other power, the said railroad and telegraph line mentioned in said acts of congress, hereby confirming to and vesting in the said company, its successors and assigns, all the rights, privileges, franchises, power, and authority conferred upon, [118 U.S. 394, 400] granted to, or vested in said company by the said acts of congress, and any act of congress which may be hereafter enacted.'"

A History of Corporate Rule and Popular Protest
 http://www.nexusmagazine.com/articles/corporations.html
by Richard Heinberg 2002
The corporation was invented early in the colonial era as a grant of privilege extended by the Crown to a group of investors, usually to finance a trade expedition. The corporation limited the liability of investors to the amount of their investment--a right not held by ordinary citizens. Corporate charters set out the specific rights and obligations of the individual corporation, including the amount to be paid to the Crown in return for the privilege granted.

Thus were born the East India Company, which led the British colonisation of India, and Hudson's Bay Company, which accomplished the same purpose in Canada. Almost from the beginning, Britain deployed state military power to further corporate interests--a practice that has continued to the present. Also from the outset, corporations began pressuring government to expand corporate rights and to limit corporate responsibilities.

The corporation was a legal invention--a socio-economic mechanism for concentrating and deploying human and economic power. The purpose of the corporation was and is to generate profits for its investors. As an entity, it has no other purpose; it acknowledges no higher value.

Many people understood early on that since corporations do not serve society as a whole, but only their investors, there is therefore always a danger that the interests of corporations and those of the general populace will come into conflict. Indeed, the United States was born of a revolution not just against the British monarchy but against the power of corporations. Many of the American colonies had been chartered as corporations (the Virginia Company, the Carolina Company, the Maryland Company, etc.) and were granted monopoly power over lands and industries considered crucial to the interests of the Crown.

Much of the literature of the revolutionaries was filled with denunciations of the "long train of abuses" of the Crown and its instruments of dominance, the corporations. As the yoke of the Crown corporations was being thrown off, Thomas Jefferson railed against "the general prey of the rich on the poor". Later, he warned the new nation against the creation of "immortal persons" in the form of corporations. The American revolutionaries resolved that the authority to charter corporations should lie not with governors, judges or generals, but only with elected legislatures.


Sign regulations 20.Jun.2005 16:50

Varro

for Monochromo: A municipal authority cannot prohibit political signs on one's own private property, according to the Supreme Court case <a href=" link to caselaw.lp.findlaw.com City of Ladue v. Gilleo</a>, decided in 1994.

I spoke with Mr. Morton last week, and there is likely to be some sort of legal response to his situation from the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center.

Most interesting case. Link got messed up. Working (hopefully) link below. 20.Jun.2005 17:34

xyster xysterxxavier@comcast.net