ACLU of Eastern Missouri Files Lawsuit to Protect Rights of Protesters During President's Visit

Affiliate: ACLU of Missouri
August 23, 2003 12:00 am

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ST. LOUIS — The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri today filed an emergency motion asking a federal court to allow protesters to peacefully demonstrate outside of the convention center where President George W. Bush is scheduled to address the American Legion.

The ACLU lawsuit specifically asks a judge to ensure that protesters are allowed “within the line of sight of President George Bush’s visit” and not any farther away from the convention center than supporters of the President.

“There is nothing more sacred in our country than political speech, and there is nothing more un-American than treating people differently based upon their political viewpoint,” said ACLU of Eastern Missouri Executive Director Matt LeMieux. “We are simply asking the court to treat all political speech equally by ensuring that protesters are not herded away from the area near where the President will be speaking.”

During past presidential visits, protesters were taken by local police to so-called “designated protest zones,” while supporters of the President were allowed to remain along the presidential motorcade route and near the area where the President appeared. The ACLU lawsuit seeks to give protesters the same speech rights as supporters of the President, or those expressing no views.

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri is currently representing four protesters who were arrested during past presidential visits for refusing to go to “designated protest zones.” All four of those cases are pending in court.

Today’s case was filed by ACLU of Eastern Missouri Legal Director Denise Lieberman.

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