ACLU-MN sues City of Minneapolis over All-Star Baseball Game "Clean Zone" Ordinance

Affiliate: ACLU of Minnesota
May 8, 2014 12:00 am

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ACLU of Minnesota
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St. Paul, Minn. – The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is suing the City of Minneapolis for creating a clean zone, limiting speech activities, for 15 days surrounding Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of two members of the One Day in July Street Festival Committee who plans on holding a public event during that time period, to commemorate the 1934 Teamsters strike in which two strikers were killed by Minneapolis Police. Because of the resolution passed by the Minneapolis City Council, MLB now has veto power over their event.

“It is disappointing that the Minneapolis City Council didn’t even blink an eye at signing over our rights to Major League Baseball,” said Charles Samuelson, Executive Director of the ACLU-MN. “A government body cannot just hand over control of our Constitutional rights to a private company.”

Minneapolis will be hosting Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game on July 15. In February, the Minneapolis City Council passed the Clean Zone Resolution which grants authority to MLB to approve (or not approve) certain activities that happen in or near downtown in the days surrounding the game. The restrictions begin on July 5, and continue until July 20. The clean zone encompasses all of downtown and a portion of the University of Minnesota’s campus. Activities regulated as a part of the resolution include: block events, parades, temporary food or beverage service, signs, and public performances of song.

“This lawsuit is not aimed at shutting down the All-Star Baseball Game,” stated Tom Hamlin, cooperating attorney for the ACLU-MN. “All we are asking is that the resolution establishing the clean zone is struck down by the Court, because it violates our client’s Constitutional rights.”

The One Day in July Street Festival will be held on July 19, the festivities include speeches, music and food. This festival commemorates the 80th anniversary of the Minneapolis Teamster strike, where Minneapolis police officers shot 67 unarmed pickets, killing two on July 20, 1934. The event will be held where much of the strike activities occurred, which is in the North Loop area of Minneapolis. The ACLU-MN filed the lawsuit on behalf of two members of the street festival planning committee: Jim McGuire and Robert Kolstad.

“It is an insult to me, and to all Americans, that before exercising my first amendment right to speak and assemble I must first get permission from a private company,” stated Jim McGuire. “It is ironic that in trying to commemorate a horrific violation of our rights in the past, we are now facing further violations.”

In the lawsuit, the ACLU-MN asked that the Court strike the resolution and declare it unconstitutional.

Cooperating attorneys working on the case are: Tom Hamlin and Mahesha Subbaraman of Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi LLP, and Teresa Nelson of the ACLU-MN.

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