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NYCLU Calls on City Council to Hold Public Hearing on the Right to Protest in NYC

The NYCLU joins Councilmembers Bill Perkins and Hiram Monserrate, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and State Senate Minority Leader David Patterson in calling on the New York City Council to exercise its oversight authority to hold public hearings on the denial of a march permit for tomorrow’s anti-war protest and the apparent establishment of a policy by the Bloomberg administration to prohibit all large political protest marches. “This is a clear threat to the rights of free speech and assembly that are the cornerstone of a democratic society,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU.

“There is something fundamentally wrong when our City tells us that our law enforcement agency can safely police the St. Patrick’s Day Parade which draws over 100,000 people, but it can not handle a peace march of the same size anywhere in New York City,” she added. “New Yorkers have a right to know: Just what is New York’s policy on political protest marches. Is there an absolute ban on large political marches? What march permits have been approved and denied since the 911 attacks?”

“Times of crisis such as this have historically given rise to efforts to curtail our civil liberties – curtailments which pose a grave threat to the very character of our democracy and which we, as a nation, look back on and regret. New York City should not rush to repeat the mistakes of the past; we should be vigilant to ensure that we do not needlessly sacrifice our freedoms. We can — we must — be both safe and free.”

The NYCLU applauds the 12 members of the NY Congressional delegation who urged Mayor Bloomberg to let the peace march go on and those political leader who stand with us today for the principles of free speech. We are pleased at the spontaneous outpouring of public support for this position from many other leaders and groups in our city and state and from many sectors of society.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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Civil Liberties Union