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E-M:/ Gale Norton's Visit to LEMP




The traffic on Enviro-Mich yesterday inspired me to attend the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Centennial Celebration Opening Ceremony 10:00 am Ė 11:30 am Saturday, 27 September 2003. I got to Lake Erie Metro Park (LEMP) about 9 am and walked around the main stage and the various displays setup or being setup. At a little before 10 I went to my van and got out my sign that I had made Friday evening. It said: THERE IS NO REFUGE IF YOU CANíT DRINK THE WATER OR BREATHE THE AIR. My sign had the same message on both sides and was mounted on a stick fastened to a backpack frame. This put the sign 2 or 3 feet above my head.

I walked to the opening ceremony and took up a position behind and to the right of the seating area. I was quite a ways from the stage and not in front of anyone. It was about 15 or 20 minutes into the program while Congressman John D. Dingell was making the Peter Stroh Dedication that a police officer approached me and asked me to leave the park. I asked him for his name and badge number and tried to record his answer in the memo function of my personal phone. I hadnít practiced and it didnít work. He left and a few minutes later returned with 5 or 6 officers. I think that the first officer to make contact was a Brownstown Township officer with badge number 1.

In the group there were also Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority Park Rangers and Wayne County Sheriff. They told me that there was a place for me to picket at the entrance to the park. I told them that I was not picketing or protesting, but they continued to insist that I leave. I asked them what law I was being ordered to leave under and the park ranger told me it was the riot act. Iíll have to read it in the next day or two.

I went to the park office and got clarification on where I could stand with my sign. It was anywhere from the parking lot in front of the office to Jefferson Ave. I left my van in the office parking lot and walked the entrance median to Jefferson and picketed there until about 12:30 pm. About 12:15 pm a fleet of police cars with lights flashing, including two officers on motorcycles, escorted two civilian cars onto northbound Jefferson. I assumed that was Secretary Gale Nortonís motorcade. On the way back to my van a Wayne County Sheriffís car pulled over to ask me if I was allowed in the park. There was a male officer at the wheel and a female officer in the passengers seat. I told them that I had been told that I could display my sign from the office to Jefferson. I told them that I was headed back to my van to put my sign away because I was getting bored. I went back into the park and walked through the art show and displays and left. I stopped at the park office and got directions to the Brownstown Police and went there. They told me that badge 1 was officer Wilson and gave me his phone number.

I feel that there was no justification for evicting me from the park but Iím not sure how to get the establishment to admit they were wrong. Any suggestions?

Dave