SOUTH GATE : Former Candidate Sues Over Citations


While campaigning at the Tweedy Mile Street Fair for a congressional seat in June, Charles Green and three of his supporters were rounded up by a city employee and ticketed for violating South Gate’s Municipal Code.

The offense? Distributing pamphlets without a permit.

“So much for the First Amendment,” said Green.

Now Green, a member of the Democratic National Committee, has filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming the code violates free speech provisions in the state and federal constitutions. The suit, filed two weeks ago in Norwalk Superior Court, seeks $1 million in damages.

Five days after the June 4 incident, Green received a letter from South Gate City Manager Todd Argow apologizing for the citations, which were issued by a temporary employee in the code enforcement bureau. In the letter, Argow told Green the citations were canceled and expunged from city records.


It was as if Green and his supporters--who were cited under sections of the South Gate Municipal Code that require city-approved licenses for handbill distributors and door-to-door peddlers--were never ticketed in the first place.

But that’s not how it appeared to Green, a veteran of civil rights marches in the 1960s.

“They treated me without dignity,” Green said. “They treated me like a quack.”

South Gate City Atty. Arnold Alvarez-Glasman, who maintained that the city’s code complies with the Constitution, said the city had hoped that Argow’s letter would bring a quick resolution.

Alvarez-Glasman said that Argow’s letter was an “apology, not an admission of guilt.”

Green, who lost the 33rd Congressional District Democratic primary to incumbent Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), has contacted the American Civil Liberties Union to discuss his case.

“It might just be a bad ordinance the city has,” said Carol Sobel, senior staff attorney of the Southern California ACLU.

“If it’s a question of a bad law, then it’s a good thing Green has filed his suit, so it can be changed.”