• Peace House chairman to risk re-arrest

    He was cited for leafleting at post office in August, which he says violated his First Amendment rights
  • When Peace House chairman Herb Rothschild visits the Central Point post office Thursday, he won't be picking up any packages, but he could end up leaving with some unwanted paperwork.
    • email print
  • When Peace House chairman Herb Rothschild visits the Central Point post office Thursday, he won't be picking up any packages, but he could end up leaving with some unwanted paperwork.
    Cited by Central Point police on Aug. 22 for trespassing at the Pine Street postal facility, Rothschild plans to return, essentially courting a re-arrest by exercising his First Amendment rights and passing out fliers about distribution of tax dollars.
    The 73-year-old said he staged the August leafleting excursion after a near-identical incident in April, when another Peace House volunteer was ordered to leave.
    The main difference between the April and August incidents, however, is that Rothschild refused to leave the facility, and post office employees called the police.
    "There are regulations saying you cannot leaflet in the lobby, which we have always respected," said Rothschild.
    "But they insisted we had to go out to the sidewalk, which is useless because people drive into the parking lot and walk up the stairs to the entrance. Standing on the sidewalk means you can't reach people."
    Rothschild said he urged both postal officials and eventually Central Point police to read First Amendment literature protecting his right to pass out the leaflets, "but they would hear none of it."
    Rothschild said volunteers from Peace House have never been prevented from passing out literature on public grounds in the past. He mused that police on the scene in August seemed "not too sure at first" about whether he could be cited for trespassing on public property.
    While Rothschild was ultimately cited, his attorney, Bill Mansfield, was notified before a scheduled September arraignment that the charges were deemed "unsupported" and would not be prosecuted.
    "They don't usually say why they drop it, so no one knows, but it's basically because you can't trespass someone from a public facility," said Rothschild.
    Calls to the district attorney's office by the Mail Tribune on Tuesday were not returned.
    Central Point police Capt. Brian Day said the charges were dropped because of limited resources.
    "The DA made the decision that, yes, he could have been trespassed," Day said.
    "Yes, it is a crime, but based on circumstances, Mr. Rothschild's actions and demeanor, and taking into consideration the resources of the DA's office, it wouldn't be something they would pursue."
    Day said the city planned to contact Rothschild and post office officials before Thursday's demonstration, set for 10 a.m.
    Rothschild said he has two reasons for re-enacting his August "crime."
    "I have no ill will at all, but I need to establish two principles. One, that people in charge of public agencies need to follow the regulations. They can't choose that (a facility) is theirs and that they can say what happens," he said.
    "And second, we simply can't afford to lose any more opportunities for people without much money to exercise their First Amendment rights."
    Rothschild said he does not expect to be arrested or cited on Thursday. He called police claims that the charges were valid a "cover-your-ass kind of move."
    "I'm hoping it will all be very pleasant," he said.
    "If postal employees call and ask that officers come and remove me, I'm hoping they will not comply and that they will tell them that no one is trespassing because you really can't trespass on public property that is open to pedestrian traffic."
    Buffy Pollock is a freelance reporter living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.
Reader Reaction

    Events Calendar