I’m writing this e-mail because on Thursday July 22, 2004, I was harassed by two St. George City Police Officers at the gazebo located at Tabernacle and 100 West, in St. George. This was a direct infringement of my rights as an American Citizen.
On the 22nd, I was eating lunch at the gazebo when the two Police Officers approached and demanded to see my ID. I was informed that they had the right to request my ID because of a ‘No Loitering’ sign nearby. I was fairly certain I was not on city property, but I was not sure so I complied.
However, once the officers let me leave I went down to the County Recorder’s Office and obtained a copy of the deed, which states that the land and gazebo is actually owned by the Washington County School District, which is a subdivision of Utah. Since the property was not owned by the City, the City Police do not even have geographical jurisdiction.
I then researched the statutes concerning school districts and state subdivisions. I discovered that Utah Code limits the Washington County School District to “have direction and control of all school property in the district”- 53A-2-108. When taken in context, Black’s Law Dictionary defines “control” as “to have a controlling interest in”, and “direction” as “a board of directors”.
Furthermore, Article 20, Section 1 of the Utah Constitution states: “All lands of the State … are hereby accepted, and, except as provided in Section 2 of this Article, are declared to be the public lands of the State; and shall be held in trust for the people…”. As an American Citizen and part of the Utah Public, I own a part of all public lands, including the land deeded to the Utah subdivision “Washington County School District” located at Tabernacle and 100 West in St. George.
The statutes do not allow the School District to govern the public or public land.
Upon further research, I located the only statute in Utah Code concerning loitering. Utah Code §76-10-1302 – Prostitution, states that a “person is guilty of prostitution when [he] loiters in or within view of any public place for the purpose of being hired to engage in sexual activity.”
Loitering is defined as: 1. To stand idly about; linger aimlessly. 2. To proceed slowly or with many stops: loitered all the way home. 3. To delay or dawdle: loiter over a task. Black’s Law Dictionary even goes as far as stating: “Loitering statutes are generally held to be unconstitutionally vague.”
I have been using that gazebo for my lunch breaks now for several months. I also like the spot to read and socialize. In the entire time that I have been using the gazebo, sometimes relaxing all day, I have never seen anyone “loiter” there by any definition.
As the Sheriff, an elected official, you have a direct obligation toward the people living within this county. When you became the Sheriff, you took on the special responsibility of preserving and protecting the rights, liberties, and freedoms of the American Citizens within Washington County against unlawful acts, including any unlawful act committed by public officials working in the government.
I now request you as County Sheriff to inform 1) the St. George City Police Department that they do not have legal jurisdiction on public land including, but not limited to, the land and gazebo located at Tabernacle and 100 West, and 2) the Washington County School District that they do not legally have authority to govern the public (the people) or public lands, that includes posting ‘No Loitering’ signs.
I will continue to use the gazebo just as I have been for the past several months. I am violating nobody’s rights and therefore committing no crime by eating lunch, reading, and socializing. I expect you to defend my right to do so, which is your job, so that I do not have to.
Thank you very much for your time, understanding, and effort.
American Citizen, Washington County Resident
The Response From the Sheriff on 08-05-04:
After I recieved your e-mail I cantacted the Washington County Attorney's Office. According to them the gazebo in on school district property and the school district has the right to post No Loitering signs. They also have the right to tell someone to get off of school district property if they want.
Since the property is within the city limits of St. George City they do in fact have jurisdiction at that location.
I would suggest that in the future if you have a complaint against a city officer you contact Chief of Police Marlon Stratton.