Mad River Union
ARCATA, APRIL 1 – Efforts to clean up Liscom Slough and various locations throughout the Arcata Bottom hit a major snag following last week’s decision in Humboldt County Superior Court declaring dumping a form of free speech.
The City of Arcata and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department had cited Manila resident Fred Sanford for numerous dumping violations, including depositing a Signature Collection three-piece corner chaise, sofa and armless loveseat in Liscom Slough.
Atop the discarded furniture Sanford piled 43 boxes of previously frozen Jimmy Dean Delights Sausage Turkey Bowls, a carton of Pall Malls and a stinky deer carcass. Mildewed bundles of undelivered Tri-City Weeklies littered the area like chunky-style corporate dandruff.
Asked by authorities why he dumped the items, Sanford said, “The sectional was new and in good condition, but it was mauve. After living with a mauve sectional for four weeks, I couldn’t take it anymore. It had to go.”
Liscom Slough, Sanford explained, was the only logical choice. “Sofas go in Liscom Slough, of course. What, did you expect me to dump it in Widow White Creek? Hello, I’m not a monster.”
After volunteer Ted Halstead spent 38 hours over three days cleaning up the mess, in the process finding a receipt stapled to the sectional with Sanford’s name and address, Fish and Wildlife officials cited Sanford for illegal dumping and ordered him to pay a $29 fine.
But when Richard Salzman and local attorney Peter Martin learned of Sanford’s citation, they teamed up and filed a lawsuit claiming that the dumping is protected speech under the First Amendment.
“Mr. Sanford was merely exercising his First Amendment rights,” Martin said. “ I don’t want to exaggerate, but by enforcing dumping laws, the fascist game wardens are no better than greenwashed stormtrooper Nazis. Oh, by the way, Hitler.”