Wednesday September 5, 2018
Ordinance better than initially proposed, but still fairly pointless.
Thanks to the efforts of activists, faith leaders and regular folks who believe in the First Amendment, the Berks County commissioners rolled back the most serious constitutional flaws in an ordinance that would have curtailed protests at and around the Berks County Residential Center ("Berks commissioners adopt ordinance on center parking," Reading Eagle, Aug. 31). Gone is the language prohibiting any actions that "annoy, discomfort or inconvenience" the passage of any vehicle on county roads without permission from police or county officials.
However, the ordinance as passed still smacks of a law in search of a problem. Since County Welfare Road and Berks Road already are abundantly posted with "no parking" signs, and no one parks there anyway, one wonders why the county must suddenly use its authority to prohibit parking there.
More telling is Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt's explanation that they're planning ahead for an imaginary day when 4,000 protesters show up at the center. Vigils and protests there are always peaceful affairs and demonstrators typically number in the dozens.
Through petitions, phone calls and letters, Gov. Tom Wolf has heard from thousands of Pennsylvanians opposed to the indefinite incarceration of women, men and children seeking asylum from violence in their home countries, but he continues to let the center stay open and make our commissioners worry about nonexistent parking violations.
The governor could solve everyone's problem by shutting down the detention center.
County parking rule doesn't make sense