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

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 on the street must purchase $2 million in insurance and indemnify the Village from liability as a condition of receiving protest permits.

Last month the NYCLU’s Suffolk County Chapter demanded that the Village drop the requirement after it prevented the Suffolk County Peace Group, which has for each of the past 23 years organized a peaceful procession and vigil to commemorate the anniversary of Hiroshima and to condemn the subsequent proliferation of nuclear weapons, from marching in the street.

“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.

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

“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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