February 5, 2012

R.I. Attorney General: Barring Injury, Not Illegal To Throw Condoms or Light Objects Onto A Crowd

Monique Chartier

Last Friday, a Right to Life rally at the State House was cut short due to serious disruptions by, it would appear, a group of pro-choice, Occupy Providence activists. Check out the FOX News report of the incident here.

Barth Bracy, executive director of Rhode Island Right to Life, said their rally had to be cut short after the Occupiers began screaming and refused to allow a Catholic priest to deliver a prayer.

“This is their idea of civil speech but we believe it’s an outrage,” Bracy told Fox News & Commentary “They started heckling, chanting and blowing whistles. They shouted down a priest.”


Bracy said one of the most egregious incidents occurred when an Occupier climbed to the third floor balcony and dumped a box of condoms on girls from a Catholic school.

“What kind of individual throw condoms at Catholic school girls,” Bracy asked.

Bracy said capitol police were outnumbered and overwhelmed by the protesters. At one point they even attacked State. Rep. Doreen Costa.

“This was one of the most disturbing sights I’ve ever seen,” Costa told Fox News & Commentary. “It was horrendous. “

Costa said a female Occupier hit her on the head with a sign and shoved her “moppy” hair in the lawmaker’s face.

There are several disturbing aspects to the incident. One of the bigger ones, for me, is the implications to all future rallies at the State House - the ability of any group to exercise their right of free speech at the seat of government without being drowned out, shut down, physically impeded or having objects thrown on them. One of the ways to ensure that this unacceptable incident will not be repeated would be to hold these disruptors acountable. (The preferred way would have been to have quelled it as it occurred. But for some reason, that didn't happen.)

Accordingly, on Friday, I called the office of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. After some discussion with his spokesperson, Amy Kempe, we agreed that the initial question to be answered was: "Is it illegal to throw condoms or small objects onto a crowd?"

After consulting a Deputy Attorney General, spokesperson Amy Kempe came back with the answer: No, it is not illegal to throw condoms or small objects onto a crowd, in the absence of injury. As with Judge Sarah Taft-Carter's decision on a different matter, a legally correct answer, undoubtedly, but one which leaves in its wake an untenable situation.

Who has legal/physical custody of the State House? The Governor? The Speaker's office? How do they view the precedent set last Friday?

Because make no mistake, that's what it was - a precedent. Witness: what happens now if a conservative-leaning group decided to emulate the immature, repugnant actions of the disruptors last Friday? Suppose they drop, say, wet nap packs onto an Occupy rally or folded pictures of Jesus Christ onto a pro-choice rally. They also physically box in some of the rally attendees, push around one legislator, hit another one with a sign and then scream and whistle so much that they shut the speakers down and cause the rally to end early.

As things stand, absolutely nothing should happen to them. After all, according to the Attorney General, barring injury, it would be legal.

But legal does not necessarily equal desireable. Nor does it address the matter of escalation at subsequent rallies in the event that a group was stupid enough to repeat the disruptions of last Friday's rally. Of course, an escalation would be illegal because it would almost certainly involve injury - small consolation to those harmed. Far better, again, to head it off rather than react after the fact.

Governor Chafee. Speaker Fox. Is this the direction that future rallies at the State House should take? If not, what is being done to prevent it? And doesn't prevention have to involve, in part, holding accountable those who set the precedent last Friday?

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"illegal" It is well to remember that the law was once codification of a moral code. That was before the predominance of "regulations". I understand courses on the "common law", enshrined in our Constitution, are no longer taught in our law schools. That leaves current lawyers unaware of where we come from.

For all of that, whether throwing condoms is legal, or illegal, should be of small consequence. What it is, is rude and unseemly. It should be regarded as derogatory to the group participating. That requires a "moral code" and a media prepared to enforce it. It requires a public "sensitive", or "well mannered", enough to recognize it for what it is. Imagine if some group threw hot dogs at a Gay Rights assembly, or burned a cross at an assembly of black people.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at February 5, 2012 5:38 PM

With all due respect to whomever in the AG's office supplied Ms. Kemp with that answer, although the conduct might not be criminal, it was an "offensive touching" that probably does constitute the tort of assault. If the victims wanted to, they could bring a civil action against those who threw the condoms.

Posted by: brassband at February 5, 2012 5:40 PM

This is the AG who has barred paper coffee cups from his office.Captain Queeg has re-emerged.
He also has decided that personal references on a pistol permit application are insufficient-one must now supply NOTARIZED detailed letters of reference.
I'm glad I have an HR218 federal permit so I don't have to tolerate this nonsense.

Posted by: joe bernstein at February 5, 2012 6:10 PM

Posted by brassband
"With all due respect to whomever in the AG's office supplied Ms. Kemp with that answer, although the conduct might not be criminal, it was an "offensive touching" that probably does constitute the tort of assault."

Unfortunately, the AG's office does not prosecute "tortious conduct".

Not so long ago, ridiculing priests and tossing condoms would be abhorrent conduct and reviled by the public. That is where we have gone wrong. Ghandi (member of the Inner Temple) and MLK taught us that you can violate the law if the public supports you. Christianity is on the decline, "Mother Nature" is on the rise. Perhaps if priests began handling snakes and reading entrails.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at February 5, 2012 8:24 PM

I would sure hope that people like the NEA and AFT organizers come out pretty strongly against what the Occupiers did here. They should be first in line in opposition of shutting down any State House rally. If they think that this is all fine to do, then how would they feel if a group of people came to their next rally with air horns, loud music and lots of cameras to document it all?

Let people have their rally and then have your own at a separate time. Respect each other's freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

Posted by: Patrick at February 5, 2012 10:04 PM

“What kind of individual throw condoms at Catholic school girls,” Bracy asked.

Is this a trick question? What kind of individual harasses women who are trying to enter clinics to obtain legal medical services?

Move these rallies to the priest's churchs and there would be no problems. Also the Catholic priests have demonstrated that if there is to be child abuse they have the required experience and they would not give the children condoms.

Posted by: Phil at February 6, 2012 6:45 AM

"Move these rallies to the priest's churchs and there would be no problems."

So the people who believe in "Right to Life" have no right to protest uninterrupted at the State House? Does the same hold for the NEA and AFT? If they just move these rallies to their union offices, there would be no problems? Is that about right?

"Is this a trick question? What kind of individual..."

Ahh, the two wrongs make a right argument.

Posted by: Patrick at February 6, 2012 8:50 AM

They kind of people who throw condoms at the right to lifers are the same kind of people who throw pictures of dead babies at women going to planned parenthood (some of these women going to pp for reasons other than abortion)

This post is a kettle calling the pot black, nothing more.

Both have the right to do what they do, but both go about it the wrong way. It is the way of our culture now, just work for the shock value.

Everyone has gone down the the Westboro Baptist church level.

Posted by: Jim Jebow at February 6, 2012 9:11 AM

There is no question this conduct was criminal in nature (whether it should be is another issue) and the AG prosecutes for this kind of stuff all the time. See e.g. State v. Cardona, 969 A. 2d 667, 675 (Battery is defined as "an act that was intended to cause, and does cause, an offensive contact with or unconsented touching of or trauma upon the body of another, thereby generally resulting in the consummation of the assault." Id. (quoting Fenwick v. Oberman, 847 A.2d 852, 855 (R.I.2004)).

Posted by: Matt at February 6, 2012 9:56 AM

Amazing how a handful of deceitful criminal homosexuals fraudulently infiltrate the priesthood and in the sickness of "progressives" they blame the Church and not the homosexual criminals.
Your kids are MUCH safer in the unionized public schools where "it's all about the kids":

LA school where teachers 'sexually abused students and spoon fed them semen' to close for two days

Mark Berndt, 61, accused of blindfolding students and feeding them his own semen on cookies
Martin Springer, 49, arrested on Friday for allegedly fondling two girls at Miramonte Elementary

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 2:23 PM on 6th February 2012

Comments (0)

A Los Angeles school where one teacher is accused of feeding his semen to students and another allegedly abused two girls will close for two days.

The superintendent of the school district, John Deasy, will meet with worried parents of Miramonte Elementary School pupils on Monday night.

Classes at the school - where the two teachers allegedly abused children as young as six - will then be cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Second teacher: 49-year-old Martin Springer was today pulled from a classroom at Miramonte Elementary School and is being held in the LA County Jail on $2 bail
Accused: Mark Henry Berndt, 61 allegedly took photos of blindfolded and gagged students with roaches on their faces and spoons of semen to their mouths

Arrested: Miramonte Elementary School teachers Martin Springer, left, and Mark Berndt, right, have been accused of sexual crimes against their students

Schools spokesperson Monica Carzo was not certain what would be happening on campus over the two days or whether staff would be there.

Although classes are scheduled to go ahead as normal on Monday, some parents have already removed their children from the school.

The ruckus comes after teacher Mark Berndt, 61, was charged with carrying out lewd acts on 23 children who were aged six to 10.


Parents sue after five-year-olds regularly touched and kissed while their teacher's back was turned
'They BOTH sexually abused me': First alleged victim of two 'paedophile' LA teachers speaks out as it is revealed they knew each other

He allegedly blindfolded the students in his classroom and fed them his semen with a spoon. Children were allegedly told was a 'tasting game'.

The teacher, who had worked at the school for 32 years, allegedly carried out the acts between 2005 and 2010.

He has been jailed on $23 million bail and could face life behind bars if convicted.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at February 6, 2012 1:22 PM
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