Hunting Foe Says Protest Is His Freedom of Speech
Kimberly, James, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: James Kimberly Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer
In the present, Steve Hindi sees before him only the bars of his cell at the McHenry County jail.
In the future, the Kendall County animal rights activist and others who support him see a much bigger question.
That is whether a state law that prohibits people from interfering with hunters can coexist with the constitutional guarantee of free speech.
"I believe when you look at the entire case there is a First Amendment question involved here," said Hindi's attorney, Louis Bruno of Skokie. "The hunter interference law: Does it have a chilling effect on freedom of speech? The First Amendment is intertwined in this litigation."
Across the aisle stands Matt Litvik, the Chicago attorney who is representing the Woodstock Hunt Club in several cases against Hindi and other animal rights activists. While Litvik does not deny anyone's right to speak his mind, the type of protest that took place outside the hunt club's grounds this fall was far from protected speech, he said.
"Part of what he did in violation of the court is not what he said, it is the volume he said it at. You can't use a megaphone, to use sirens to disturb the peace of this county," Litvik said.
Hindi and other protesters were not trying to convey a message, they were trying to scare game away from hunters who had paid money to join the Woodstock Hunt Club, Litvik said.
"They could say, 'Shoot the bird, shoot the bird' loudly. It would accomplish the same thing," Litvik said.
The question of whether Hindi was exercising his First Amendment rights likely will be addressed when Hindi is tried for criminal charges of wildlife harassment and interfering with hunters. …