Eugene Judge Rules In Favor Of Protesters

Aug 8, 2013

A Eugene municipal judge has ruled that Lane County officials were wrong to close the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza to protesters last December.

Judge Karen Stenard issued an order Wednesday afternoon saying that the act of closing the plaza was unconstitutional. Stenard also threw out a misdemeanor trespassing charge against activist Ally Valkyrie. Valkyrie had challenged the arrest and closure of the plaza.

"It's a nice little vindication," Valkyrie says. "We knew the whole time that this entire thing was unconstitutional and for once it's really nice to hear a judge basically completely agree with us."

Valkyrie was arrested December 13 for refusing to leave after then-County Administrator Liane Richardson had informed protesters she was closing the plaza. Richardson claimed she smelled feces in the plaza while people were conducting a protest of Eugene's overnight camping ban.

Another case is still before Judge Stenard. It involves 21 protestors who were arrested in January for remaining in the plaza past an 11 p.m. curfew.

Meanwhile, Liane Richardson has been fired by the Board of Commissioners for a violation that has not been made public.

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