School officials in Wisconsin were caught on video trying to intimidate parents into closing down a weekly “Jesus Lunch” for hungry kids in a local park, and now the police are involved.
Mothers in Middleton have been hosting a Jesus Lunch 16 times per year since 2014 in Fireman’s Park. Students from Middleton High School, who may eat at local dining establishments, often choose a free lunch provided by the mothers. The religious message shared with meals was the catalyst for targeting the gathering, which has grown from a small handful of students to hundreds.
“We are asking you to allow our legal counsels to consider this together because this is certainly a question you contend is a First Amendment right,” Donald Johnson, the superintendent of the Middleton-Cross Plains district, recently said to the mothers after blocking the park entrance with hazard cones. “We contend that this is really an issue of our ability to exercise our lease for the city. We think that cooperation is really the way to go.”
Johnson was then presented with a letter from the group’s lawyer, another from the City of Middleton, and a lease agreement to use the park, the education watchdog EAGnews.org reported last Friday.
“[Officials] coned up the parking lot, waited there and confronted my clients and told them to leave,” Phillip Stamman, an attorney representing the moms, told the website. “[The parents] responded how I recommended. They walked right past them. The superintendent repeatedly tried to confront them. He was the first one. But they just moved on.”
The video also shows the Johnson simultaneously lamenting the parents’ lawyers while saying his desired resolution would entail their removal from the park.
“Fireman’s Park – a public park owned by the city of Middleton – remains accessible to everyone in the public for the purposes of assembly and free speech,” lunch organizer Beth Williams said in a statement. “By law, the lease agreement between the city and the school district of Middleton does not privatize the park.”
The school district contends it has jurisdiction over the park because its lease applies to school hours.
“The District has understood over the past 16 years that this is a District responsibility, and that school rules and District policy must apply,” Johnson wrote in an email to Cap Times April 16. “[Middleton-Cross Plains School District] is not interested in litigation, and is committed to working collaboratively to find a solution that meets the needs of all parties. We are interested in thoughtful and respectful dialogue. We do not intend to interfere with the Jesus Lunch, and we will continue to reach out to organizers to find an amicable resolution in the near future in the best interests of all of our students.”
Middleton Police Department will now monitor Tuesday’s Jesus Lunch due to heightened tensions in the town.
“Reasonable people differ over the interpretation of the wording of the lease,” Police Chief Charles Foulke said April 15 on the department’s Facebook page. “I’m not worried about reasonable people, but I am concerned about unreasonable people, people who are using this issue for their own purposes and who are beginning to threaten good people on either side of this issue. Unless something unforeseen happens, the ‘Jesus Lunch’ is going to happen this Tuesday and will probably continue until the end of the school year… Please do not assume that our presence in any way indicates a preference for any side in this issue other than to preserve the peace and allow people to exercise their 1st Amendment rights… I hope it is not the students who teach the adults how to act.”
In addition to citing food-safety concerns, school officials sent an email to parents on April 12 saying, “We believe that religious or political events do not have a place in our school or on our campus, except when sponsored by a student group in accordance with our rules, which require prior approval,” Fox News reported.
Principal Stephen Plank also attempted to denigrate the group by saying the Christians’ message has resulted in some students “sitting in the hallway crying” or leaving school early, the network reported.
Stamman told Fox that no form of harassment will deter the parents from hosting Jesus Lunch in the future.
“These women will not be intimidated,” Stamman said. “They are wholeheartedly committed to serving the students a free meal while sharing a Christian message.”
A federal district judge in San Antonio has issued an order stopping a Texas law criminalizing the harboring of illegal aliens, at least for now. The judge issued the preliminary injunction in MALDEF’s (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) lawsuit challenging Texas House Bill 11, a law which open border advocates are fighting because they say it improperly targets illegal alien shelters and those who rent to illegal aliens.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are David Cruz of San Antonio and Valentin Reyes of Farmers Branch, Texas, and Jonathan Ryan. Cruz and Reyes are both landlords who do not check whether their tenants are legally in the country. Jonathan Ryan is the Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).
The federal complaint states that “In his role as Executive Director of RAICES, Plaintiff Ryan provides shelter to immigrant women and children who are not authorized to be present in the U.S. and lack lawful immigration status. Many of the immigrant women and children sheltered by Plaintiff Ryan are asylum-seekers from East Africa and Central America who entered the U.S. without authorization and are in federal removal proceedings.”
The plaintiffs brought the lawsuit on January 24 and sued Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven C. McCraw, and members of the Texas Public Safety Commission.
The bi-partisan bill, signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on June 9, 2015, gives power to the Texas Department of Public Safety, relates to military and law enforcement training, and the investigation, prosecution, punishment, and prevention of these offenses, it increases a criminal penalty, and authorizes fees.
The harboring provisions are part of a $800 million border security effort by the Texas Governor and the Texas legislature.
Breitbart Texas attended the ceremony when Abbott signed into law the toughest and most comprehensive border security plan of any state in the United States of America. The Governor noted that the Texas-Mexico border can be a gateway to crimes committed in other parts of the U.S.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, the legislative package provided historic levels of funding to secure the border, established a child sex trafficking prevention unit, strengthened penalties for human traffickers, increased funding for the border protection unit, and seeks reimbursement from the federal government for Texas funds spent on border issues. The Governor declared the plan a legislative priority, and one of his emergency legislative items during his State of the State address.
“We are doing this because border security has turned out to be a real challenge for the people of this state, not just on the border region but across communities across the entire state of Texas,” the Texas governor said at the ceremony. Because of the magnitude of the challenge, Abbott declared securing the border an emergency issue. He said Texas must respond to do what the federal government refused to do.
The bill became effective on September 1, 2015. The plaintiffs say the pertinent sections of the bill are unconstitutional because they violate the Supremacy Clause and attempt to regulate matters exclusively reserved to the federal government. They argue only the U.S. Congress has authority over these areas and the state law conflicts and interferes with the implementation and enforcement of federal laws and regulations.
The plaintiffs also claim that the law deprives the plaintiffs of liberty and property interests without due process of law and are “void for vagueness” in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, they argue that the law deprives them of the equal protection of the laws in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The plaintiffs ask for attorneys’ fees and costs for bringing the lawsuit.
Texas officials assert that House Bill 11 was aimed at those who traffic humans and smuggle them into the country illegally for money. The law criminalizes harboring or shielding an illegal alien with the intent to obtain a pecuniary benefit, and harboring illegal aliens that are members of a street gang.
The penalty for a harboring violation is a third degree felony and carries a possible sentence from 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the harbored illegal alien is under the age of eighteen, or the harboring creates a substantial likelihood that the illegal alien will suffer serious bodily injury or death, the offense is a second degree felony that carries a possible prison sentence of life, or 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the person becomes a sexual assault victim, or suffers other serious bodily injury or death, it is a first degree felony and the possible penalty is 5-99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Governor Abbott responded to the news of the preliminary injunction by stating, “This is absurd.” The governor of the Lone Star State said he would appeal the federal judge’s order blocking the Texas law that criminalizes concealing illegal immigrants.
A Connecticut Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that a lawsuit against the maker of a rifle used in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings can go forward.
Under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, gun manufacturers are generally not able to be held liable for crimes committed with their products.
However, Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that the PLCAA does not prevent lawyers for the families of Sandy Hook victims from arguing that the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle is a military weapon and should not have been sold to civilians.
More from the Hartford Courant:
The lawsuit accuses the Remington Arms Co. and other defendants of negligently selling to civilians a weapon the plaintiffs claim is suitable only for the military and law enforcement. At a hearing in February, Bridgeport lawyer Josh Koskoff argued against dismissing the case, saying the lawsuit’s claim of “negligent entrustment” is an exception to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
Bellis agreed with the plaintiffs that she has the jurisdiction to continue with the case, but she did not rule whether or not the PLCAA actually blocks the plaintiffs and their attorneys from pursing their lawsuit.
“At this juncture, the court need not and will not consider the merits of the plaintiffs’ negligent entrustment theory,” Bellis wrote.
Koskoff, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, was happy with the decision.
“We are thrilled that the gun companies’ motion to dismiss was denied,” he said in a statement, according to Newsweek. “The families look forward to continuing their fight in court.”
Fortunately for Koskoff, they won’t have to wait long. The two sides are due back in court Tuesday.