AFL-CIO political organizer arrested

A Cleveland man with a lengthy criminal record was arrested Monday for canvassing a Canal Fulton neighborhood without a permit, police said. Wayne C. Christopher, 48, and six other people were canvassing residential neighborhoods for the Cleveland office of Working America, described on its Web site as a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

Christopher was arrested Monday night in the 600 block of Colonial Street on outstanding warrants from Cleveland police and a charge of soliciting without a permit. The open warrants are for drunken driving and driving with a suspended license, Officer Douglas Swartz said. Christopher also has convictions for rape, felonious sexual penetration and pandering obscenity and is a tier-three registered sex offender, Police Chief David Frisone said.

Canal Fulton police were notified Monday afternoon that a group from Working America was coming down to do canvassing. A faxed list of names did not include the three people with criminal histories, Swartz said.

The city requires all solicitors to obtain a permit. “They called and said, ‘We’re coming down, and we don’t need a permit,’ and they cited some case law,” Swartz said.

The solicitation law is meant to protect residents from criminals who may be casing homes and neighborhoods, he said.

“Most of our citizens know that we keep strict guidelines for who comes through town,” Swartz said.

Officers responded when they received reports of a suspicious person going door-to-door Monday night.

Christopher and the six other canvassers were brought to the police station. Christopher was booked and released on a summons to appear in Massillon Municipal Court on Friday.


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