Defenders of human rights are suing the city of Detroit for silencing their free speech in a public forum.
Created Equal says it was prohibited from engaging in protected free speech activities during the Democratic presidential debates held in July at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed the lawsuit against the City of Detroit and several Detroit police officers.
"They created this restricted area that just ensured that the pro-lifers were not going to be able to get anywhere near the Fox Theatre, where the debate was going to take place, so that the candidates ... those who attended the debate, and certainly the news stations covering the debate would not see their message," reports AFLC co-founder and senior counsel Robert Muise. "They essentially silenced it by creating this large, overbroad restricted area."
At one point, when people tried to get close to the Fox Theatre by walking through a church parking lot outside of the restricted area, Muise says police officers told the pro-lifers they had to leave.
"When Mark Harrington, the leader of the group, protested, they put him in handcuffs," the attorney continues. "They were going to take him away, but he agreed he would move to what they created as this free speech zone, which was well away from the Fox Theatre. And even worse, they divided up the free speech zone, and it was up to the police's subjected view as to whether or not you had a pro-Democratic candidate or an anti-Democrat message as to which part of the free speech area you got to stand."
According to Muise, those who had pro-Democrat messages got to stand in a location that was closer to Fox Theatre.
"So what they essentially did is they silenced the right to free speech in traditional public forums, which the public sidewalks and streets around the Fox Theatre consist of," the attorney explains. "They did so not only based on the content, but the viewpoint of the message that was expressed, and that's just not permissible under the First Amendment."
The lawsuit is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit.
OneNewsNow is seeking comment from the City of Detroit as well as from the Detroit Police Department.