Westchester Legislators Propose “Protest Law”

foldedflagWestchester County Republican Legislators Sheila Marcotte, John G. Testa, Jim Maisano, Gordon Burrows and Bernice Spreckman are proposing legislation that would prevent the disruption of funeral services by protesters.  The primary purpose of the law which Marcotte submitted on April 9, 2011 is to protect the privacy of grieving families of soldiers, police officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty.  In recent years some small radical groups have exploited the deaths of American servicemen and used their funerals as a backdrop to spew messages of hatred and anti-americanism.

Regardless of how cruel and loathsome the rhetoric of these fringe groups may be, the legislation recognizes that their speech is protected under the first amendment.  This legislation accommodates the rights of protesters outside a perimeter of 500 feet, up to one hour prior to the start of a funeral or memorial service and one hour after the completion of the service.

According to Legislator Marcotte , “We are all indebted to the service men, and women, of the American Military for defending our freedom everyday, this will allow their grieving friends and family the respect and privacy that they are entitled to during what can be a very difficult time. While we all respect the recent Supreme Court Decision, this law will prevent demonstrators and protestors from being allowed to purposefully disrupt and upset these services while being held but will still allow for the expression of free speech prior to and directly after said services if they choose to do so”

Legislator Testa said, “This is a question of common decency and respect for the fallen heroes of our country and their families. This law will protect grieving families from those interested in the political exploitation of their suffering. Families of military personnel killed in action have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and deserve compassion and respect.”

Legislator James Maisano said, “As a Marine and as an American I am profoundly grateful for the freedoms that our men and women in the military risk their lives to protect. I am honored to join Legislator Marcotte in advancing this legislation. Families of fallen soldiers should not have to endure the cruel and combative antics of extremists at the solemn events surrounding the burial of their loved ones. Freedom of speech is a right that is at the heart of our democracy and this legislation thoughfully protects that right while ensuring the privacy and the opportunity to grieve with dignity for the families of our military heroes.”

About Legislator John G. Testa

John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010. Prior to his successful run for the District 1 Legislative seat, he served 3 terms as Mayor of Peekskill from January 2002 until December 2007. Before becoming mayor he also served a four-year term as a Councilman. From his first days in office Testa worked tirelessly to set the City on the path of economic stability. Peekskill flourished under this plan, increasing the city fund balance to its highest in history. During John’s tenure in office, the NY State Comptroller’s Office named Peekskill one of the most fiscally sound municipalities in the State; independent auditors proclaimed Peekskill as being in its best fiscal condition in over 30 years; and Moody’s Investor Service agreed to upgrade its bond rating, resulting in further savings. The plan he put in place was so successful that it enabled the City of Peekskill to pass three budgets in a row with a 0% tax increase. These fiscal skills will prove valuable to Testa as he works to put the brakes on what has been wildly escalating county spending and unchecked government growth. He has pledged his efforts to work to consolidate services, eliminate wasteful spending and improve efficiency. In addition to the fiscal conservatism that served Peekskill so well, Testa worked to promote the city, attracting investment, jobs and an increased tax base. Over $100 million of private investment came to Peekskill in the forms of new residential construction, retail space, and the redevelopment of historic structures. As Mayor, Testa led a successful battle to stop the unfair and unsafe plan to send sewage to the Peekskill plant from outside the sewage/water district. John’s roots are deep within the soil of Northern Westchester. His father’s family has lived here for more than a century and his mother’s family is nearing that mark. He is proud that he was born in Peekskill and has lived and worked here all his life and, with his wife Nancy raised their two children here.
This entry was posted in government, politics, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s