I very much enjoyed the articles on the 50th anniversary of Tacoma Mall, but I would like to correct one very important thing.
A town square is a public space, which is very important to a democracy. On a public street or plaza, I can ask for signatures on a petition or hand out leaflets without asking anyone’s permission. I can hold a sign for or against something or campaign for a candidate or an issue. In other words, I have all my First Amendment rights.
A shopping mall is private space, and though the ACLU was able to win a ruling from the state Supreme Court saying that individuals have a right to collect signatures, they may have to ask permission, and other free speech activities such as handing out leaflets, picketing or giving speeches are not allowed without the permission of the mall.
So, Tacoma Mall is not a town square, and the loss of Tacoma’s downtown had far-reaching consequences for our constitutional rights.