I plan a short, peaceful vigil at the Brattleboro Post Office on my 70th Birthday.
That should pretty much be a non-event in Brattleboro, where vigils and other expressive activity have regularly taken place on outdoor post office property for decades. But recent threats of arrest for expressive behavior on outdoor Brattleboro Post Office property, does make this a bit special.
Every Saturday morning for the past 12+ years, Parker Huber has stood with a sign, “Silent Witness for Peace,” from 10 until 11. Daniel Sicken has stood each Saturday from 11 to noon, with a sign, “War Is State Terrorism.” When I heard that a new postmaster had warned Parker that he must stay off of post office property with his sign or he would be arrested, I felt that affirming Brattleboro’s tradition of expressive behavior on outdoor post office property would be a good way to celebrate my birthday this year.
Wanting to avoid unpleasant surprises, I went in to discuss my plans with the postmaster. But the discussion was not productive. I wrote a letter, among other things explaining why I think my proposed vigil is legal, and suggesting that the postmaster discuss it with counsel. Soon I was contacted by a regional manager who appreciated my desire to clarify the rules and to work things out cooperatively. She agreed that the rules do permit expressive behavior on outdoor post office property, so long as it is peaceful, and does not disrupt ingress or egress.
In writing, she assured me that she has spoken with our local postmaster, and I need not fear arrest. On Friday, May 29th, at 1 p.m. I plan to stand, holding a brief, spiritual message, off to one side so as not to block access, on Postal Service property.