Catawba County Allows Anti-Pastor Protest to Go Forward Following ACLU-NC Intervention

May 24, 2012 12:00 am

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ACLU of NC Voiced Concerns About County Ordinance That Could Have Denied Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate Use of Public Land for Sunday Protest

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RALEIGH – Catawba County officials announced this evening that they would allow a group of citizens to hold a protest on the lawn of the Catawba County Justice Center following a day of negotiations with the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF). Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate sought access to the public grounds in order to hold a protest on Sunday against recent anti-gay comments made by Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, North Carolina. After originally being denied access, the citizens group contacted the ACLU-NCLF for legal assistance. The ACLU-NCLF raised concerns to officials about the constitutionality of the county’s ordinance and was prepared to take further legal action before the matter was resolved Thursday evening.

“We’re very glad the county decided to do the right thing,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU-NCLF. “This decision shows Catawba County officials take the First Amendment rights of their citizens very seriously, and we appreciate their willingness to accommodate citizens wishing to peacefully express their views on public grounds.”

The protest is scheduled to be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the lawn of the Catawba County Justice Center in Newton, NC.

“We are pleased that Catawba County honored its citizens’ First Amendment rights by allowing us to peacefully assemble and take a stand against the hateful rhetoric from Pastor Worley,” said organizer Laura Tipton. “We are truly thankful to the ACLU of North Carolina for standing with us to ensure that our voices can be heard.”

The ACLU of North Carolina is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving and expanding the guarantees of individual liberty found in the United States Constitution, the North Carolina Constitution, and related federal and state civil rights laws. With more than 10,000 members and supporters throughout the state and an office located in Raleigh, the organization achieves its mission through advocacy, public education, community outreach, and when necessary, litigation.

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