ACLU launches letter-writing drive against Spokane city attorney

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington is decrying the actions of one of Spokane’s city attorneys with a call to action on its website.

The move follows on the heels of a letter the group sent to City Attorney Howard Delaney, objecting to the actions of Assistant City Attorney Rocco “Rocky” Treppiedi, who in June told private Spokane attorney Breean Beggs to cease communications with members of the City Council. Beggs represents the family of Otto Zehm, who was killed by Spokane police in 2006.

The ACLU web page, which is titled “PROTECT OUR RIGHT TO SPEAK TO OUR CITY LEADERS,” lets users fill in a few simple fields, then automatically sends a letter to Mayor Mary Verner, all members of the City Council and Delaney.

The letter reads:

The First Amendment right to petition our government representatives is essential to our democracy and must be carefully guarded. So, I was upset to learn that the City Attorney has told a leading Spokane advocate that he cannot talk to his representatives. I urge you to act immediately to reassure the people of Spokane that the First Amendment rights of all people, even those who criticize our government, will be protected.

Treppiedi, a longtime city attorney, was acting inappropriately, the ACLU says, and his attempt to prevent Beggs from talking with some council members was “improper and should stop immediately.” 

The letter from the ACLU, which was sent on Sept. 16 and first reported on Bloglander,  has been taken “under advisement,” Delaney told the Spokesman.

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