You only had to look at the cover of yesterday’s New York Times to see freedom of expression taken to new heights on the eve of the arrival of the Olympic torch in North America. Today, all eyes are on San Francisco, where the torch has touched down for what is expected to be a six-mile relay before it continues on to Buenos Aires.
As late as April 2, the details of the torch relay route, as well as the government’s plans for protestors, were under wraps. The ACLU of Northern California began pressuring the City to release information after a March 12 San Francisco Chronicle article indicated that the city planned to restrict protestors to ‘free speech zones’ and city officials mentioned in media interviews that protestors would be subject to searches.
Michael Risher, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, filed the Sunshine Ordinance requests that helped convince the City to disclose the route. Risher has also been communicating with the San Francisco Police Department to urge that law enforcement not overreact to public safety concerns by unduly restricting free speech. Risher talks in a podcast about the ACLU’s efforts to ensure that everyone – all of the protestors, torchbearers and spectators – is able to exercise their First Amendment rights during today’s procession.
Learn more about the ACLU of Northern California’s advocacy on behalf of free speech during the Olympic torch relay: http://www.aclunc.org/olympictorch.