NYCLU Sues Village of Bellport to End Requirement That Protestors Buy $2 Million in Insurance

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
September 27, 2006 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — The New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit to force the village of Bellport to drop an arbitrary and unconstitutional requirement that groups wishing to march in the street must purchase $2 million in insurance and indemnify the village from liability as a condition of receiving protest permits.

“A group’s right to express itself should not be contingent upon its ability to pay extraordinary fees,” said Dolores Bilges, Executive Director of the Suffolk County Chapter of the NYCLU.

Last month, the NYCLU’s Suffolk County Chapter demanded that Bellport drop the requirement which prevented a march planned by the Suffolk County Peace Group. For the past 23 years, the group has organized a peaceful procession and vigil to commemorate the anniversary of Hiroshima and condemn the subsequent proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The group seeks assurance that in coming years it will be able to secure a parade permit, which would allow it to march in the street without being subject to exorbitant insurance requirements.

“Other courts have held in similar cases that insurance requirements such as these are an impermissible burden on the right to protest,” said Arthur Eisenberg, NYCLU Legal Director. “We are confident that this one will do the same.”

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