Project LPPPA Notable Incident Reports

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The KANSAS COALITION FOR LIFE, Project Love, Prayer, and Persistent Political Action
5575 South Mosley Street, Wichita, KS 67216-3631      PHONE: (316) 522-8866      FAX: (316) 522-8833
INCIDENT REPORT:        Mark S. Gietzen
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Shift Start:Shift End:
12:01 AM8:45 AM
  After Ed Grob took his tent down and left around midnight, I climbed into my tent, which Terry Read had set up, being careful to comply with City Code 10.04.130. I made sure that it in no way blocked the sidewalk, (…the one on the west side of Bleckley Street that no one uses).

At 2:02 am, as expected, the police arrived. An officer, whose name I did not get, yelled in an intimidating voice, that I should get up and leave, or be arrested and taken to jail for vagrancy. I poked my head out of the back vent, and asked politely what ordinance I was being arrested under. The officer said that I would find out later in jail if I did not leave immediately. I happened to have my copy of 10.04.130, an ordinance against obstruction of streets and sidewalks, with me, and I showed it to him, telling him that I was on the phone much of the afternoon with the City Law Department, on behalf of Ed's right to set up a tent here. He took a look at 10.04.130 and said "No, not that one!"

His partner said that he would also issue a ticket for my parking in a no parking zone. I said that I could not stop him from writing the ticket, but that I was not illegally parked beside my tent. I explained the arrows and sign to them but both officers disagreed with my interpretation of the NO PARKING Sign. I accepted the ticket and said that I would set it for court, first thing in the morning.

Since I would not agree to leave, but rather simply asked for the ordinance which prevented me from being there, they called a Police Supervisor. The supervisor came and they went into a conference meeting, sitting in one car and using their cell phones and computer. I took off my shoes and climbed back in the tent and went back to bed.

Then at about 2:22 am, the belligerent officer shined his light into my vent hole, and I opened it to talk to him. He handed me a note with the ordinance 5.66.030 written on it. He said, here's the ordinance, but we are not going to arrest you tonight, because the wording is a bit ambiguous.

I took the note and thanked him and said "Good night." The officer then said: "Oh, by the way, do you have that parking ticket?" I said, "Sure, right here!" He said, "Why don't you give that back to me. I have been thinking about what you said and I can see how you could be confused by the signage." Trying not to sound cocky, yet glad to get rid of the ticket, I said: "Sir, I am not confused whatsoever by the NO PARKING Sign." He took the ticket and left.

By the grace of God, following several days and nights of extreme heat, we had a cold front move through Wichita, and the temperature dropped 20 degrees. It was cool enough that I felt most comfortable inside of the sleeping bag.

Without an alarm to get me up for a run at 4:44 am, and with no telephone ringing, I slept in like a lazy man until Terry and Ed woke me up at 7:05 am. It was the best sleep I had in a long time, but I missed my morning run and exercise routine.

By the time I got up, Terry, Ed, Jeff, and others were here, and they had the Crosses set without any help from me. All I did was disassemble my tent which Terry had set up better than I have ever been able to do on my own, and went to work.

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