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YORK: Protesters Won't Pay For Police Springetts Hasn't Decided Whether To Bill For Rally

At a Sept. 15 meeting, the township told Dobson and his attorney that they will have to assume the cost of police protection at $45 per officer per hour, Dobson said.

"I don't think it's fair that the taxpayer is required to foot the cost because a group wants to practice their First Amendment rights," said township attorney Charles Rausch.

Police protection is necessary, Rausch said, because there may be up to 1,000 protesters marching along public roads.

Police haven't yet tallied up the expected bill. But on Thursday, Rausch said the township has not yet decided whether to bill the protesters. Still, he didn't think it was a big deal because the bill wouldn't go out until after the rally.

Court battle: Dobson said if the township does try to collect, it wouldn't be without a court battle.

But so far, both sides say they've been cooperating.

The township has approved the $10 permit for rally organizers who plan to protest at both York County Prison and the now-closed Caterpillar distribution plant, said the township business manager John Holman.

"We've been working with the group," Rausch said. "I think both sides are cooperating."

Dobson agreed, pointing out the township has decided to forgo a liability insurance requirement.

"We've gone from almost this feeling of certain doom to feeling really optimistic about everything," he said.

Still, he is following closely a pending lawsuit filed against York City last year by pro-segregationist Richard Barrett.

After visits by several white supremacist groups, York adopted a public assembly ordinance in April 2002.

Both racist groups and peace protesters have said the city's ordinance violates First Amendment rights and have challenged it in court. Barrett filed suit against the city after officials refused to issue a permit for his organization, the Nationalist Movement, to hold a January rally because he refused to provide liability insurance or agree to pay the cost of police protection.

A federal judge agreed with Barrett and waived the requirements three days before his scheduled event. Still, U.S. District Court Judge Yvette Kane has not issued a final ruling on the ordinance.

The rally, which attracted fewer than 10 white supremacists and several dozen counter-protesters, cost the city $20,000 in police protection.

Dobson, a social activist who doesn't support Barrett's views, said Barrett's fight with the city may set a precedent.

"Barrett might actually help us in this," he said. "We'll take any help we can get."

Prison protest: Dobson, organizing a group calling itself the "October 18th Coalition for Human Rights" has posted announcements of the event on various Web sites for organizations based in Cleveland, Baltimore, New Jersey and New York. It is called "a mass event to create nationwide attention concerning the secret arrest and detentions of immigrants in this new climate of increased repression."

York County Prison is one of the largest detention centers in the country for the Department of Homeland Security's Bureau and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. After the prison protest, the group plans to move to the now-closed site of Caterpillar Tractor Co.'s distribution plant to protest against that company's "continuing support for Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine," according to Web sites.

The protesters say Caterpillar is responsible for the manufacture of armored bulldozers used by the Israelis to demolish the homes of Palestinians.

Dobson has been involved in different human rights issues for years. The issue at the prison is the federal government's detention policy on immigrants since the Sept. 11, 2001.

A June Department of Justice report criticized what it called the incarceration of illegal immigrants with no proven links to terrorism for as long as 200 days and mass deportations of more than 500 of them.

Dobson has a list of endorsers, from the Green Parties of Cumberland, Dauphin and York counties to the Anti-Racist Action of Los Angeles. He is calling on an assortment of anarchists, communists and anti-racist activists from Cleveland, New York, New Jersey and Baltimore to join the event.

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