For Immediate Release:
Contact: Lancaster Against Pipelines 717.974.3095
Pro-Home Rule Conestoga Resident arrested for speaking during public meeting
Conestoga Township supervisors ordered police officers to arrest Conestoga resident Kim Kann during a public meeting Tuesday evening at the Conestoga Fire Hall. Kann was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after speaking in response to the Supervisors’ presentation on Home Rule.
The supervisors ordered police to detain Kann for not following their meeting format, which limited Conestoga residents to only asking questions. Statements or clarifications from township residents were banned by the supervisors, as were questions or comments about the proposed pipeline. Kann says she was attempting to clarify misinformation presented by the supervisors regarding Home Rule - which she supports.
Lawrence M. Otter, an election and constitutional lawyer, said, "This appalling behavior by the elected officials shows a complete disregard for fundamental American values and rights. The police were equally complicit is suppressing an American citizen's right to speak at a public meeting. The charges of disorderly conduct will be vigorously contested at the magistrate level and beyond."
Said Kann, “I stated my intention to ask a question after the misinformation was corrected, and repeatedly stated that it is my first amendment right to speak briefly at a public meeting without limitations, as per my first amendment protections.”
The Conestoga Township supervisors organized the public meeting for Tuesday to present information on Home Rule. About 200 people were in attendance. Conestoga residents who make up the Conestoga Community Group (CCG) attended the meeting, and were admonished and some were told to leave after attempting to clarify and present information about Home Rule and the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline.
Said Leslie Bunting, a Conestoga resident who attended the meeting, “This meeting was a perfect example of why Conestoga needs home rule. It’s absurd that residents can’t speak their mind at a public meeting without the supervisors ordering police to arrest them. That is not democracy.”
Kann wished to clarify several statements made by presenters during the meeting:
“Expert presenters mischaracterized the May 19 election as being “for home rule”. It is specifically to vote yes or no to the question of seating a government study commission and selecting government study commissioners. This is a very important point that deserved clarity.”
“Another point was the Chairman Eshelman’s comment regarding Conestoga Community Group participation. The group replied we would participate, but were denied the opportunity. The final point that was unable to be stated was the misrepresentation by a panel expert that we could expect a government study commission to spend $10,000.00 to $15,000.00 or more. The PA home rule handbook published by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development states for municipalities with 5,000 or fewer residents the average cost was $976.76.”