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NYCLU: Judge’s Decision On Central Park Protest Is Wrong

New York State Supreme Court judge today denied the request by United for Peace and Justice to rally in Central Park on August 28th following its march on the eve of the Republican National Convention. Organizers for UFPJ and their attorneys expressed disappointment in the decision of Judge Jacqueline Silbermann, but emphasized the fight for peaceful protest in Central Park will continue.

“One must remember that what made Central Park so great has been the huge variety of events that have taken place there, including large political events,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Closing Central Park to political protests would mark a dangerous departure from this City’s proud tradition of public spaces being used for demonstrations.”

Judge Silbermann decision said denying UFPJ’s permit application to rally in Central Park does not unnecessarily burden the group’s right to free speech. The judge also said the City’s offer of West Street along the West Side Highway is an adequate site to hold the numbers of people expected at the rally.

“We strongly disagree with the [judge’s] suggestions that the West Side Highway is the same as Central Park for the purpose of this rally,” said Christopher Dunn, Associate Legal Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “This is not the end of the fight for Central Park–it’s the beginning.”

UFPJ was represented in its lawsuit by the NYCLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The coalition of 800 organization expects to draw protesters in excess of 250,000 people and said it will continue with its plans August 28th to march up Seventh Avenue past Madison Square Garden. Negotiations continue with the NYPD about how and where the crowds will disperse at the end of the march on 34th Street near the Garden.

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