Cupcakes and Motorcades: Judge Sets Hearing in Case of Robert Groden v. City of Dallas

Categories: News, Park and Rec
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Cupcakes and the Kennedy motorcade, not just a band name anymore
Update at 4:47 p.m.: The City Attorney's Office just sent a statement concerning Robert Groden's lawsuit and his efforts to sell his magazines and DVDs at Dealey Plaza. It's in full on the other side, but here's an excerpt:
Robert Groden has no written agreement or permit from the City to sell goods or services at Dealey Plaza. In fact, the Park Department does not issue permits or enter into written agreements with any persons to sell goods or services at Dealey Plaza. Accordingly, it is unlawful for Groden to sell or attempt to sell any goods or services at Dealey Plaza. ...

However, Groden may express his opinions about any matter at Dealey Plaza so long as he complies with the City Code's prohibition on selling goods or services in Dealey Plaza. In addition, Groden may sell, distribute, or offer for sale noncommercial printed matter (such as newspapers and magazines) on public sidewalks adjacent to Dealey Plaza as long as he does not obstruct the sidewalk or conduct the sale, distribution, or offer from machines or other structures that occupy the sidewalks.
Back to the original item: Went down to Dealey Plaza Saturday to see Robert Groden, but the conspiracy theorist was nowhere to be found -- turns out, the threat of rain kept him out of the rented parking space from which he sells the magazine and DVD for which he was arrested and detained for nine hours last month. But he'll be out there every weekend between now and August 25. That's when the judge has set a hearing in the case of Robert Groden v. City of Dallas, says Groden's attorney, Alex Tandy, today.

According to the city's letter to Tandy last week, Groden won't be hassled by Dallas police between now and then. "That's what they say," Tandy tells Unfair Park. "Course, never can guarantee anything, but that's what they say." Tandy tells Unfair Park that U.S. District Judge Royal Furgeson has ordered both parties to "have everything ready to go that day -- all exhibits, all witness lists, everything." To which he then added: "It's gonna be a fun deal."

Speaking of: When I was at Dealey Plaza Saturday with the boy, we stopped by the newly opened Sixth Floor Museum + Cafe for a La Duni lemonade. At which point we were greeted by the video screen you see above, which shows everything but John Kennedy's assassination. "Creepy," said one fanny-packin' out-of-towner to his wife. "Cool," said their kid. "Weird," said mine. Still, we did walk out with two Brad Oldham originals: Kennedy coins featuring an impression of the president on one side and an inspirational quote on the other. Only a buck-fitty -- cheaper than a glass of "Sixth Floor Signature Tea."

What, you say you don't believe there is such a thing? Jump, then.

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CITY ATTORNEY'S STATEMENT ABOUT GRODEN LAWSUIT

Dealey Plaza has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States government and is in the City's West End Historic District. Dealey Plaza has been under the jurisdiction of the City's Park and Recreation Board since 1936. The Dallas City Code prohibits any person from selling or offering to sell any goods or services in areas under the control of the Park Board unless the person has a written agreement or permit issued from the office of the Park Board.

Robert Groden has no written agreement or permit from the City to sell goods or services at Dealey Plaza. In fact, the Park Department does not issue permits or enter into written agreements with any persons to sell goods or services at Dealey Plaza. Accordingly, it is unlawful for Groden to sell or attempt to sell any goods or services at Dealey Plaza.

In addition, the City Code prohibits a person from occupying private property for the purpose of vending goods or services unless he possesses a certificate of occupancy or is conducting his business in a structure that does not violate any City Code provision. Furthermore, the Texas Penal Code prohibits a person from entering or remaining on property of another without the owner's effective consent when the person has notice that his presence was forbidden.

However, Groden may express his opinions about any matter at Dealey Plaza so long as he complies with the City Code's prohibition on selling goods or services in Dealey Plaza. In addition, Groden may sell, distribute, or offer for sale noncommercial printed matter (such as newspapers and magazines) on public sidewalks adjacent to Dealey Plaza as long as he does not obstruct the sidewalk or conduct the sale, distribution, or offer from machines or other structures that occupy the sidewalks. Thus, the City Code does not infringe upon Groden's right of free speech.

The City believes its police officers have properly enforced the law against Groden. Contrary to Groden's claim, the City believes no employee ever agreed that Groden could violate the City Code, nor does any city employee have such power. The City will vigorously fight any effort to sell goods or services at Dealey Plaza or otherwise violate the law in the vicinity.


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