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Peltier Benefit at Amphitheater

November 08, 1987

Willie Nelson and Orange County Assemblyman Gil Ferguson spent a recent evening together at Costa Mesa's Pacific Amphitheatre. They were, however, there for very different reasons.

Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Joni Mitchell, Robin Williams and other well-known stars were there to enlist support for Indian activist Leonard Peltier.

Assemblyman Ferguson was there as part of a group picketing and protesting the concert.

There is no doubt that the performers were properly exercising their constitutional right to express their concern as to the role played by the Justice Department in the trial and conviction of Peltier in the death of two FBI agents.

Likewise, there is no doubt that those picketing the event were similarly exercising their right to protest and register their disapproval of the concert's purpose.

However, Assemblyman Ferguson expressed a most unique view of American constitutional rights when he was quoted in a following-day Los Angeles Times news article as saying, "I'm considering introducing legislation to prohibit the use of public property for political purposes."

A call to Assemblyman Ferguson's office revealed that he felt he had been misquoted. He said he was considering introducing legislation to prohibit political fund raising on public property. When contacted, you indicated that you would confirm the accuracy of the original quotation.

Political expression, including fund raising, Mr. Ferguson, is precisely what public property is for. Any view to the contrary is the essence of totalitarianism! I feel certain this is not the impression you wished to convey.

TOM WERT

San Clemente

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