ACLU Challenges NY Mayor's Decision to Block Anti-War March on United Nations

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
February 5, 2003 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — The New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of anti-war groups that have been barred from conducting a public march in conjunction with a large anti-war demonstration planned for February 15 at the United Nations.

“The streets of New York historically have been available for parades and marches for many causes,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU, which is representing the groups.

“The current controversy concerning American intentions to attack Iraq is perhaps the most pressing national issue in the United States today,” she added. “During times of national crisis, it is all the more important that we zealously safeguard our rights, and there is nothing more basic than the right to protest.”

The New York City Police Department yesterday informed the coalition – called United for Peace and Justice — that it would not allow any march to take place anywhere in the city as part of the event. The federal court has scheduled an emergency hearing for this Friday afternoon.

NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who is the attorney handling the case, noted that New York City routinely issues parade permits for similarly sized or larger marches and parades, including this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue, which is scheduled to take place approximately one month after the February 15 event. And on at least three prior occasions, the NYPD allowed huge protest marches to proceed past the United Nations, all of which took place without consequential problems.

“If the police department is willing to allow hundreds of thousands of people to participate in events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Labor Day Parade, and the Puerto Rican Day Parade, we do not understand why it will not allow a similarly sized march of anti-war demonstrators,” Dunn said. “The Bloomberg Administration’s position in this matter departs dramatically from the rich tradition of public protest in New York City.”

The legal complaint can be found at /node/34973

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