Government

City of Creswell, woman settle in July 4 parade permit case

BOB WILLIAMS / CHRONICLE PHOTO – Julie Bivens “protesting” in Creswell in July 2021 to dispute her fines by the Lane County Sheriff’s Office after she helped host an unpermitted parade.

CRESWELL – Seven months later, it’s settled.

After Julie Bivens was cited and fined over $2,500 in 2021 for her part in organizing the Fourth of July parade without permits, Creswell Judge Scott Palmer this week signed off on a deal in municipal court, bringing the saga to a close on Feb. 22. 

Last July, Bivens and Cottage Grove resident Chris Tough were cited for prohibited parade activity (CMC 10.30.10) after not filing for a permit to host a parade. They were also cited for soliciting or confederating to violate the ordinance (CMC 9.05.920), after being warned by police of the repercussions.

Previously, Tough pleaded “no contest” and agreed to pay a $50 fine for prohibited activity, and a $200 fine for soliciting to violate the ordinance.

On Feb. 17, Bivens pleaded “no contest” to the charge of prohibited parade activity, agreeing to pay a $50 fine for the violation. The City dismissed Bivens’ second violation of “soliciting a violation” and agreed to revisit its code regarding parade permits to “ensure compliance with the U.S. Constitution.”

That code reads that the application: 

• Needs to be made to the city council at 30 days prior to the event;

• Includes verifiable contact information of event organizer;

• Includes details of event; and

• Be reviewed by the city council for safety concerns. 

“The city council and city attorney will be reviewing our special events permitting ordinance within the next few months to assure that it meets all federal and state criteria as part of the settlement,” said Michelle Amberg, city manager. “It may or may not change as I understand that the City has the right to make place-and-manner restrictions on special events.” 

Bivens did not respond to requests for comment. 

An event traditionally hosted by the Creswell Chamber of Commerce, Covid restrictions prevented the Chamber from organizing the event last year. Filling the void, Bivens and Tough advertised a politically charged “patriot parade” on social media pages, calling on the Proud Boys extremist group and QAnon conspiracy theorists to heed the call to “stop submitting to tyrants” by holding the parade in spite of Covid restrictions and city ordinances. 

BOB WILLIAMS / PHOTO – Cottage Grove’s Chris Tough, a Proud Boy member, helped organize the Fourth of July parade in 2021, and was subsequently fined.

BOB WILLIAMS – PHOTO / The Proud Boys roll down Oregon Avenue in Creswell during an unpermitted parade in 2021.

Some parade-goers anticipated the traditional event, unaware of who was hosting it, as their advertisements listed the Chamber-organized military fly-over as part of its event, and that the parade was being held on the “traditional route.” 

But because no permit was filed, the parade route was not blocked off, causing traffic congestion on intersecting streets. Further, the presence of a hate group – of which Tough is a member – dismayed some parade-goers, prompting letters to the city council, and national media attention cast upon Creswell. 

Now, all of that is in the past, and local leaders are working to ensure there won’t be a repeat this year. 

“The city is pleased to have the matter settled,” Amberg said. “We are looking forward to the coming Fourth of July festivities being planned and hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.”

With the Creswell Chamber taking the wheel again for the events this year, it is actively seeking volunteers. Those interested in volunteering can fill out an inquiry form at tinyurl.com/CreswellChamberVolunteer.

Additionally, an ad hoc committee was created and charged with scheduling a town hall event to discuss rumors that spread during last year’s event; provide fact sheets; share a timeline of last year’s event in contrast to that of the traditional events; and share information on how a parade is traditionally organized and planned by the Chamber. That public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 10 at New Hope Baptist Church, 597 S. Front St.

Sgt. Scott Denham, who issued the citations, said he’s happy the situation is resolved. 

“I am happy the issue has been resolved,” Denham said. “I hope that Ms. Bivens will consider lending her assistance as a volunteer for this year’s Chamber-organized Fourth of July events.”