Protesters who plan to take part in a June 11 rally in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, in support of releasing Making a Murderer’s Steven Avery from prison, were hit with substantial fines this week. In order to avoid some of the expenses, they agreed to stay on a public sidewalk by the county courthouse.
The Herald Times Reporter reports that Manitowoc County is asking the protesters for a a $100 permit application fee, insurance coverage of up to $1 million for bodily damage, insurance coverage of $250,000 for property damage, a non-refundable $1,560 for security services, a $100 permit application fee, and an additional $250 refundable security deposit.
According to the “We Stand 4 Innocence Rally” organizer, Jackie West, the rally was moved to a sidewalk next to the courthouse, since it’s considered a public spot. She also paid the permit fee, but she doesn’t feel obligated to pay the additional charges, although she indicated she’d pay the security deposit if the $1,560 fee fee was thrown out.
— Rich Donovan (@yankfan2010) June 2, 2016
“No, we are not doing either as of now, but I would agree to both (the security deposit and insurance) if they waive the $1,560 fee. I think the $250 security deposit and insurance are reasonable requests; the other is not.”
The Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Department indicated that the $1,560 fee would provide security services by the police. According to Assistant Chief Scott Luchterhand, deputies will help keep an eye out for any disruption during the rally.
“We will have people keeping an eye on the protesters, and our regular patrol will be out.”
However, since the protesters plan to be on the sidewalk by the courthouse and not on the steps, Manitowoc County Public Works Department Director Gerard Neuser stated that they wouldn’t need to pay the subtantial fee. He also stated that the fees weren’t made up just to charge the Avery rally-goers; the fees have apparently been in place for the past five years for anyone who wants to use the grounds of the courthouse.
West replied that no one in the pro-Avery group will be violent or cause a disturbance, although people who support keeping Avery in prison will more than likely be at the rally as well.
“We do not want to start physical confrontations. People on the other side of this are planning to be there, but we’re just going to show support for Steven and Brendan and it’s going to be peaceful.”
In January, police arrived at a previous pro-Avery rally in Manitowoc County. Yet, there were no fights or disturbances. Luchterhand is hoping the next rally will turn out the same way.
“We are hoping people behave like last time. We understand people want to get their opinions out, and we’re sensitive to that.”
— KSDK NewsChannel 5 (@ksdknews) January 30, 2016
The assistant chief sent a document to the protesters, outlining the rules, which include:
- Keeping entrances to the courthouse open and unblocked
- Refraining from any violence
- Standing, sitting, and mingling in designated areas only
- No threats, coercion, or intimidation
- Refraining from violating any city ordinance and state statute
To raise money for the event, some of the protesters will camp out in Wisconsin the night before the rally. They plan to hold a silent auction and a raffle. A barbecue, campfire, and a bounce house (for children) will be provided.
World Wide Protest/rally for Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey. Plan to come and show support. pic.twitter.com/gGL8nnF59w
— Lisa Hurt (@southrenbelle67) May 12, 2016
The rally is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m, at 1025 S. 9th Street, on the sidewalk in front of the courtroom. To date, a little over 100 people have signed up to attend. Several other pro-Avery protests are scheduled for the same day, in different parts of the world, including Louisville, Sacramento, Manhattan, Manchester, Boston, Dublin, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and downtown Asheville.
West stated that her belief in Avery didn’t happen from just watching the popular Netflix documentary. She’s scoured court transcripts and dug deeply into the case. The primary reason for the rally is because she believes Steven Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, are both innocent, and she plans to do anything she legally can to help free them.
“I look at it like he (Avery) was framed, and Dassey was coerced into a confession. I became obsessed.”
[Photo by Morry Gash/AP Images]