ASHWAUBENON, Wis. (WFRV) – The Village of Ashwaubenon is just one of many locations where people have gathered in recent months to have their voices heard.
“I’ve done eight total protests that we’ve organized under ‘#Bust the Silence,'” explains Hannah Lundin, community activist. “This the only one that I was actually invoiced for.”
Lundin has organized numberous Black Lives Matter demonstrations in recent months. She says Ashwaubenon is the only municipality that has charged her for services incurred by her protest.
“They invoiced me for $760 I believe, exactly, because they considered my protest an event,” said Lundin.
After our story aired, Ashwaubenon Village President, Mary Kardoskee left a voicemail saying, “We’re not treating her (Lundin) any different that we would treat anybody else that had come in to do an event in the village where we had to close off streets. We invoiced her just like we would invoice anybody else.”
In that invoice, obtained by WFRV Local 5, Ashwaubenon Public Safety explains to Lundin, “Your event did not have authorization to utilize and block village roadways… a special event permit is needed for a gathering to take place on any village street.”
But Lundin’s attorney, David Hassel, argues a small protest that grew out of social media is hardly an event. Hassel says, according to Ashwaubenon’s own village code, a special event permit requires at least 45 days notice, with no exceptions. He says this cannot apply to political demonstrations without drastically affecting a citizen’s right to free speech. The underlying message of the invoice was clear, Hassal says: Any future black lives matter activity in Ashwaubenon would not be welcome.
“These are predominantly white sections of Green Bay,” adds Lundin. “We need to get you guys to start talking. We need some change to happen, so that’s exactly why we did Ashwaubenon.”
While protesters say they specifically chose Ashwaubenon to get their message out, Hassel explains there’s another reason the idea of charging people for gathering in this particular neighborhood is just a little unusual.
“Everybody’s been here on game day Sunday, family night, whatever, interrupting traffic is not a big deal and we’re talking two intersections on a weekend day,” says Hassel. “This was not disruptive, so they’re sending a message about something else.”
Lundin says this is no time to stay silent.
“It’s my first amendment right. It is freedom of speech. We are out here in support of a movement. We want to see change in our community,” says Lundin.
WFRV Local 5 did speak to Ashwaubenon Public Safety about the matter. They say they cannot comment on this case because it is a legal issue.