Bowing to ACLU Lawsuit, Honolulu Ends Unconstitutional Restrictions on Public Marches and Gatherings

Affiliate: ACLU of Hawaii
October 10, 2001 12:00 am

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ACLU of Hawaii
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HONOLULU– Bowing to a free speech lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai`i, the City and County of Honolulu today agreed to change its permitting schemes for marches and gatherings on public streets and in parks.

The ACLU said the changes will prevent the city from imposing unconstitutional conditions on First Amendment activities in the future.

“Today’s settlement avoids the need for further litigation and settles all remaining issues in the lawsuit, said Brent White, Legal Director of the ACLU of Hawai’i.

“We are delighted that the City has agreed to all the major changes we had suggested,” he added. “These changes should make it much easier for members of the public to exercise their rights to free expression without undue interference by the government.”

The ACLU of Hawai’i filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Asian Development Bank Watch and others in April of this year. In the lawsuit, the ACLU alleged that the State of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu had engaged in unconstitutional actions in relation to planned protests during the Asian Development Bank meeting.

While the city and state entered into an agreement allowing protests to go forward during the meeting, the agreement left certain issues relating to the city’s unconstitutional parade and park permitting schemes for future settlement or litigation.

The changes to which the city today agreed include the following:

1. The previous 40-day advance filing period for parade permits shall instead be five days.

2. The previous three-week advance filing period for permits for gatherings in public parks shall instead be three working days for regular gatherings and twenty-four hours for spontaneous events occasioned by current affairs.

3. The city shall waive the $500,000 general liability insurance requirement for parade permits for groups who are unable to obtain the insurance or are unable to pay for it.

4. The city will no longer require permits for playing musical instruments in public parks and will no longer restrict the playing of musical instruments to certain designated locations.

5. The city shall no longer ban parades on Sundays.

6. Applicants for parade permits shall no longer be required to consult with or obtain the approval of neighborhood boards, community associations, or property owners.

7. Applicants for parade permits shall no longer be required to provide written indemnification agreements.

8. The city shall no longer require money deposits for public assemblies in public parks.

9. The city shall not impose unconstitutional conditions on marches, parades, or gatherings protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For example, the city may not prohibit individuals from joining a march once it has started, as the city tried to do during the Asian Development Bank protest.

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