Challenge to Ashland Ordinance to Stop & ID

Conversation by Jackson County Democrats Regarding Ashland’s Proposed Ordinance Requiring a Person to Show ID and/or Name and Birth Date When Asked by an Ashland Police Officer. The Dems passed an emergency resolution rejecting the ordinance on Friday, June 28. Second reading of the ordinance is Tuesday, July 16 at 7:00pm at City Council Chambers on East Main. A City Councilor who voted for the ordinance did not consent to having her pro-side posted.

June 29, 2019

I can easily imagine the frustration of the Ashland police when confronting individuals suspected of a violation when the individuals refuse(s) to give his/her/their names and birthdates.  Those attending the Ashland City Council meetings would have heard 26 people, over the course of two evenings, argue why the ordinance was antithetical to the first amendment  and potentially discriminatory and perilous to the LGBTQ community and minorities as well as potentially problematic for those with mental health conditions.  No residents spoke for the ordinance, all spoke against, however, the city council voted to approve the first reading in a 5-4 vote; Julie Aikens was the sole nay vote

Ordinance 3176 criminalizes the failure of someone whom an officer has probable cause to believe has committed a violation to provide their name and birthdate; the charge is a class C misdemeanor with a maximum of 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1250. 

A 2017 Oregon Supreme Court case, Oregon v. McNally concluded that anyone practicing passive resistance is not considered to be interfering with a peace officer.  (We have a long tradition of such practice in America from Thoreau to MLK to Standing Rock.) The Ashland City Council and Chief of Police appear to be taking issue with that ruling.  

Frankly, IMHO, over the last decade, our city leaders have shown great alacrity in taking on and financially addressing the needs of the unhoused, and those with mental health issues to the degree required, while bending over backwards to accommodate the wants of the well-heeled.  As Michelle Glass, director of Rogue Action Center, so eloquently stated at tonight’s JCD meeting, (I paraphrase) this ordinance would have been much more palatable had such a credible effort been made.  

It’s cliche, but “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  Chief O’Meara has shown integrity and sensitivity in his and his department’s interactions with our diverse population, however, ordinances have a long shelf life, far beyond an individual’s employment or time.  I shudder to think how such an ordinance, subject to the subjectivity of “probable cause,” in the wrong hands, can be used to intimidate those both exercising their right to speak and their right not to speak.  

The hearing for June 18 can be viewed here:

The ordinance will get a second reading before the Ashland City Council on Tuesday, July 16; if it passes it will take effect after 30 days.  

Andy Seles, Ashland Resident