Pasco Makes It Easier to Prosecute Protesters Lying in Roads
The City of Pasco has changed their code when it comes to protesters who stage sit-ins, or otherwise try to block or impede traffic. Critics say it's a direct result of protests staged following the death of Antonio Zambrano.
This week officials inserted the word "intentionally" into the city code that deals with protesters who block traffic or other pedestrians due to a protest event.
Now, officials (police) must 'prove' the protesters are deliberately or "intentionally" trying to block traffic before they can be charged with a crime.
While the city council didn't specifically mention any instances, there was a notable incident two months after Zambrano's fatal shooting in 2015. In April, a number of protesters staged what was called a "die-in" by lying down in the street at the site of the shooting, 10th and Lewis in Pasco.
According to police reports, traffic was snarled and the city took dozens of complaints from motorists and others who were stuck in a traffic jam due to the protest. Police cited a number of the protesters with misdemeanors ranging from failure to disperse, to violating the city code, which prohibits people from blocking the right of way or traffic.
Certain codes that cover much of downtown prohibit people from lying on the sidewalk, alley ways or streets, unless they are engaged in some sort of building, maintenance or other legal purpose such as responding to a medical emergency. The code prohibits people from interfering with the use of these facilities.
These codes still are in effect, but now officials much provide the burden of proof that people engaged in these activities as the "die-in" are intentionally trying to block traffic or interfere with the use of streets, alleys or sidewalks.
The new revisions will go into effect as of this coming weekend.