California Community Group Wins Right to Engage in Free Speech Activities on July 4

July 3, 2001 12:00 am

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LOS ANGELES – People for Community Empowerment, a coalition organizing around energy and other community issues, will be able to go ahead with a rally and parade starting at El Dorado Park in Long Beach on July 4, after winning a temporary restraining order yesterday against the City of Long Beach.

“This Independence Day, we have one more thing to celebrate,” said Carol Sobel, a cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California who is representing the groups.

“The federal court here in Los Angeles allowed our plaintiffs’ constitutionally-protected free speech activities to go ahead as planned. Their activities represent the heart of our freedom as a nation, and their perseverance in the face of city bureaucratic obstacles will secure their own rights – and the rights of others in the future,” Sobel said.

The city began to create obstacles for People for Community Empowerment when it learned that anarchists might distribute literature at a table at the event.

The city cited several provisions of its permitting scheme, the substance of which had already been successfully challenged by the ACLU in court nearly ten years ago, when Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Pride event organizers encountered city resistance to their event.

“The City of Long Beach tinkered with its unconstitutional law, but did not fundamentally change its unconstitutionality,” said Sobel. ” The City of Long Beach still has a permitting scheme which gives the city and its agents the power, in effect, to stop speech it doesn’t happen to like. That’s what we hope to change.”

The temporary restraining order, granted yesterday by U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi, orders the City of Long Beach not to enforce its parade permitting ordinance and to issue forthwith any and all necessary permits for the event. The order also exempts the group from posting a bond in order to hold their event.

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