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Committee approves banning protests at homes

By Melanie Boyung

Special to the Daily News

GERMANTOWN — The village’s Public Safety Committee has approved a new ordinance for Germantown to prohibit picketing residential properties, which will go forward to the Village Board for final approval and implementation.

The new ordinance states “No person shall engage in picketing before or about the residence or dwelling of any individual,” and specified further that the ordinance did not prohibit lawful picketing in a labor dispute or bar meeting or assembly in places commonly used for public discussion. The ordinance applies only to residential locations.

The ordinance the committee approved declared “the protection and preservation of the home is the keystone of democratic government,” and noted “That the practice of picketing before or about residences and dwellings causes emotional disturbance and distress to the occupants, obstructs and interferes with the free use of public sidewalks and public ways of travel and such practice has as its object the harassing of such occupants.”

“This particular ordinance came after some recent activities in the village,” Germantown Village Attorney Brian Sajdak said during the Public Safety Committee meeting. The recent event was a protest held outside a residence in Germantown on Aug. 7. Germantown Police Chief Mike Snow said the road was blocked off by the picketers.

“We estimated the crowd to be over 100 people,” Snow said. “They blocked off the street. They actually set up a band in the roadway.”


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According to several social media posts, the Aug. 7 protest in Germantown was outside the home of the Wauwatosa police chief, and the picketers were there about a matter in the Wauwatosa Police Department, regarding a black man who was shot and killed at Mayfair Mall by a Wauwatosa officer who is also black.

Snow said that the protesters were there, outside the home, about two hours. There was a police presence, including about eight Germantown officers who responded and a number of Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies who came to assist. He said there were not arrests or formal action taken.

“Given the number of protesters our goal was to gain compliance and have them leave the area,” Snow said. He said during the protest, people were playing amplified music, shining spotlights and one lawn in the area was driven over. Some of the protesters were openly carrying firearms. Garbage and litter were left behind after demonstrators left.

Snow said multiple residents in that area contacted the Police Department about the incident. “Residents were concerned about what happened, (and concerned about) it happening again,” Snow said.

The language of the ordinance indicated the prohibition was to allow people the use and security of their homes without harassment, and that people still had the full opportunity to exercise freedom of speech and other rights without resorting to protesting at homes.

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