FOLLOW UP: Walla Walla Biker Noise Should Have Been Ticketed
Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber concluded disorderly conduct supersedes free speech and noise-related disruptions are NOT protected under the First Amendment after receiving counsel from the city attorney over the handling of a protest last month in Walla Walla.
Members of motorcycle clubs revved their engines to drown out speakers at a rally and should have been cited for disorderly conduct. Both the Walla Walla police department and sheriff's office knew a day in advance there would be counter-protesters and that they would be bringing their roar.
Curiously, Bieber decided not to have uniformed officers present. Instead there were two plainclothes officers in the crowd. The chief's reasoning was that at highly emotionally charged venues, uniformed police presence only serves to incite the situation as opposed to calming it.
The council voted 6-1 to have the city attorney review the city's noise ordinance for further clarity as city officials believe protests and counter-demonstrations will only increase in the future.
In our recent online poll, most KATS listeners sided with the bikers in this case -- 75 percent of poll respondents said bikers had every right to drown out the protest.