ACLU Sues for Free Speech In Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park
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ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed a lawsuit today on behalf of local activists whose attempts to hold demonstrations in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park have been thwarted by city officials. The ACLU is seeking an order preventing the enforcement of criminal regulations that limit free speech and assembly in the park.
“In this country, parks are places where citizens have the right to gather and speak their minds,” said Gerry Weber, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia “but in Centennial Olympic Park exercising your rights can land you in jail.”
Despite its claim to be “the world’s gathering place,” regulations for Centennial Olympic Park make it a criminal offense to “hold vigils or religious services, and other like forms of conduct which principally involve the communication or expression of views or grievances, which has the intent, effect, or propensity to draw a crowd of onlookers….”
The individuals represented in this case allege that the park regulations unconstitutionally infringe upon their time-honored rights to free speech and due process.
“It’s mind-boggling that my political free speech here at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta is about the same as it is in Tianeman Square, China,” said Anthony Don George, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
In filing the lawsuit, the ACLU is also challenging the Georgia General Assembly’s grant of “legislative powers” to the Georgia World Congress Authority to create criminal laws for the park.
The ACLU filed this lawsuit on behalf of citizen-activists Anthony Don George, Harry Knox, Ed Scruggs and Larry Pellegrini.
The ACLU of Georgia is assisted in this case by volunteer attorneys Torin Togut and Gary Pelphrey.
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