Community Groups File Appeal in Precedent-Setting Free Speech Case
WHO: San Antonio Free Speech Coalition & Int’l Woman’s Day March Planning Committee
WHAT: Community Groups File Appeal to 5th Circuit
WHEN: Monday, July 27, 2009 at 10am
WHERE: Federal Courthouse, 655 E Durango, San Antonio, TX
Members of the San Antonio Free Speech Coalition and the SA International Woman’s Day March Planning Committee will hold a Press Conference Monday, July 27th at 10am in front of the federal courthouse to announce the filing of their appeal in the lawsuit regarding the City’s marching and parade ordinance.
Judge Fred Biery dismissed the case without trial on June 30, 2009. His two-and-a-half page decision failed to address any of the groups’ concerns regarding violations of basic constitutional rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments, which provide freedom of speech and equal protection under the law.
The dismissal came as a surprise to the plaintiffs, whose trial had already been delayed once before in January 2009 when Judge Xavier Rodriguez unexpectedly recused himself from their case only days before it was scheduled to go to trial. Rodriguez had also granted a temporary injunction enjoining the City from enforcing the ordinance, which Biery later lifted.
The ordinance, passed by City Council in November 2007, allows the City to charge some groups tens of thousands of dollars for street marches and other types of processions, while others are allowed street usage free of charge.
The Free Speech Coalition and International Woman’s Day March Committee have been organizing against this ordinance since it was first proposed in March of 2007, arguing that the marching costs are prohibitive, excluding poor and working class people from exercising freedom of speech in the public streets.
San Antonio is currently the only major city in the U.S. which charges for marches and other 1st Amendment protected processions in the public streets, which have traditionally been a public forum for political demonstration and expression.
The S. A. Free Speech Coalition will hold a Community Action in response to Judge Biery’s decision on August 8, 2009 at 10am in front of City Council Chambers.
Esperanza Peace & Justice Ctr.