Last week I stood at the edge of a field, watching a father and his two young sons chase each other across the grass. The field was half as wide as a football field and twice as long. The boys darted in and out of a line of trees as they made their way toward the other end. It was cute, and it was illegal.
That's because the city of Portland recently passed an ordinance banning all people from being on any median except for the purpose of crossing the road. That means no holding political signs, no stopping to talk to a friend, no playing tag on a stretch of grass that looks like a park but happens to be sandwiched between the two sides of Franklin Avenue.
We've been advising the city for a long time that passing such a broad ordinance would raise constitutional concerns, but the city council went forward with it anyway. So last night, we filed a lawsuit challenging the ban on behalf of three Portland residents who have long relied on medians as a place to exercise their rights to free expression. As someone who once stood on a median holding a sign to celebrate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I am hopeful the city will finally see the error of its ways. The City of Portland should not be in the business of banning me from exercising my rights on public grounds.