Restraining Order Against Activist Denied

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Restraining Order An immigration activist who "liked" materials on Facebook critical of Ocean View, California school board members and posted materials himself was spared the imposition of a restraining order this week, filed by the school board president. 

"The activist, Raymond Herrera, who lives in Victorville, has attended Ocean View meetings for more than a month. In response to what officials believed to be threatening comments at public meetings and on social media, the district decided to pursue a restraining order against him on behalf of Clayton-Tarvin.

In a court filing, Clayton-Tarvin cited two videos posted on Herrera’s Facebook page and what she described as threatening comments from his followers as reasons for feeling “fear and anxiety that Mr. Herrera poses a real and objective danger” to her well-being...However, Superior Court Judge Craig Griffin, citing free-speech concerns and Clayton-Tarvin’s position as an elected official, denied the request for a temporary restraining order April 3."

Herrera, who does not live in Ocean View (he lives in Victorville) has been attending the school board's meetings regularly and has posted allegedly offensive materials on social media. However, as discussed above, those postings were not sufficient for the judge to limit Herrera's First Amendment Rights under the United States Constitution. It is alleged Herrera posted comments that could be interpreted as "threatening" the the school board president alleged placed her in reasonable fear for her safety. 

This is not the first time in recent days that a governmental official has requested a restraining order as a result of activism, where the respondent alleged his free speech rights. In December, Black Lives Matter activist and musician Trevor Ferguson (aka Trevor Gerard) was restrained from going near Los Angeles Police Commission President Matt Johnson, after Johnson alleged Ferguson went to his home in an attempt to influence policy. Ferguson was detained by police when he allegedly joked about ringing Johnson's doorbell. 

This time, however, the governmental agency requesting the restraining order was not as successful and Herrera returned to the local school board meeting last week, where tensions were high. While the school board president, Gina Clayton-Tarvin was not present, supporters of Herrera and those of the school board clashed, with police intervening after the school board meeting during heated arguments between the sides.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution allows broad free speech, including speech that some may consider hateful, divisive and/or bigoted. However, certain restrictions do apply. Speech that incites violence, for example, is not protected. Similarly, speech which places public safety at risk is also not protected (the classic example of unprotected speech is the act of falsely claiming a fire is burning in a movie theater). The first amendment states that, 

"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."

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