Wes Woods II, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Created: 01/09/2012 03:03:05 PM PST

View Document: Lawsuit filed by Claremont police union vs. city and chamber

CLAREMONT – The Claremont Police Officers Association has filed a lawsuit against the Claremont Chamber of Commerce and the city alleging its right to freedom of expression, association and assembly were violated at the Village Venture event in October.

According to the lawsuit, Robert Ewing, a detective and association president, and others were not allowed to hand out fliers related to the association’s stance on contract negations with the city.

The incident took place at the arts and crafts fair in downtown that is put on by the city and the chamber.

City Manager Tony Ramos said the City Council would meet tonight in closed session about the lawsuit because it’s a “litigation matter.”

“If you saw that flier the guys were handing out … it paints the City Council in a position that highlights how they’ve been detrimental to public safety,” said Dieter Dammeier, an attorney for the Police Officers Association.

The city “didn’t want the facts to come out.”

On the flier is the phrase “Why Is City Council Gambling With Your Safety?” and includes a hooded man with a gun and a flashlight. Statements on the flier such as “Police budget reduced,” “97 sex offenders” and “1908 parolees” are imposed on a roulette wheel.

Ewing contacted chamber staff member Maureen Aldridge about two weeks before the event and asked to participate, according to the lawsuit.

He told Aldridge that the association wanted to set up a booth to distribute materials related to the association’s position on the contract negotiations, according to the lawsuit.

Aldridge said the association would not have to pay a normally required fee, and it could set up next to the Police Department’s command post.

Ewing set up the association’s booth next to the Police Department’s equipment, but Police Chief Paul Cooper said the association was not allowed to have its booth at the location, according to the lawsuit.

In response, a booth was set up a short distance away and fliers were handed out.

Aldridge later told association members that they could not have a booth at all, according to the lawsuit.

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