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COMMUNITY v. CARVINO

December 17, 1986

COMMUNITY FOR CREATIVE NON-VIOLENCE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JAMES J. CARVINO, et al., Defendants


Louis F. Oberdorfer, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: OBERDORFER

LOUIS F. OBERDORFER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 Plaintiffs are the Community for Creative Non-Violence ("CCNV"), an unincorporated association of persons, and Mitch Snyder, a member of and spokesperson for CCNV. Defendants are James J. Carvino, Chief of the United States Capitol Police, and the Capitol Police Board.

 Plaintiffs applied for a demonstration permit with the Capitol Police Board on November 19, 1986, and sought in their permit request to conduct a vigil on the Capitol Grounds, to serve dinner on Thanksgiving day and each succeeding day, and to place on the grounds a statue of a man, woman, and child hovered over a heating grate.

 The statue is described by plaintiffs as a "modern day creche" and is entitled "Third World America: A Contemporary Nativity." The huddled figures and heating grate sit atop a base that bears the inscription "And still there is no room at the Inn." The base is approximately seven and one-half feet in length, five and one-half feet in width, and has an estimated weight of five hundred (500) pounds. The statue is purportedly fragile and valued at over $ 15,000. It has been the subject of previous litigation. See Community for Creative Non-Violence v. Hodel, 623 F. Supp. 528 (D.D.C. 1985). Plaintiffs intend, if permitted, "to keep the statue on Capitol Grounds until Congress passes emergency legislation to provide shelter for the homeless." Complaint at 4, para. 9; Declaration of James J. Carvino at 3, para. 10 (Defendants' Exhibit 3). Recently plaintiffs have posted a sign alongside the statue which bears a message to the effect that the Congress does not sponsor the demonstration.

 The permit was issued pursuant to section 156 of Article XIX of the Traffic and Motor Vehicle Regulations for the United States Capitol Grounds (the regulation). That regulation, promulgated by the Capitol Police Board in 1976 on the authority of Public Law 570, 80th Congress, 60 Stat. 720 (40 U.S.C. § 212b), established limitations on the issuance of permits for demonstrations on the Capitol Grounds. Specifically, it

 (1) limited to 300 the number of participants in a demonstration on the grounds, other than in the area west of the Capitol (section 156 (a)(1));

 (2) limited each permit to a period of not more than 7 days (section 156(a)(2));

 (3) forbade any permit which authorized "demonstration activity having a duration of more than 24 consecutive hours" (section 156(a)(2)); and

 Section 156(c) provided:

 
With respect to any permitted demonstration activity on the Capitol Grounds, movable facilities. . . reasonably necessary as an integral part of demonstration activity shall be permitted provided that prior notice was given as part of the application for a permit. [Emphasis added.]

 On November 24, 1986, a document captioned "Permit Relating to Demonstration Activities of United States Capitol Grounds," was issued to plaintiffs over the signatures of the Chairman of the Capitol Police Board and the Sergeant At Arms of the Senate for the period November 28 - December 3, 1986. The permit has been twice renewed for seven day periods; most recently on December 11, 1986. The permit describes the area of the Capitol Grounds to be involved and states dates, time and duration. The time stated is "commencing at 1200 hours and ending with 24 consecutive hours of each commencement each day."

 The duration stated is: "Less than 24 consecutive hours each day." Under the caption "Props and Equipment," the permit describes, in addition to tables and ...


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