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Court Rubber Stamps Govt. Ban on Free Expression

Plaintiffs' attorney Wayne Giampietro reminded
the judge that the lawsuit included a demand for a declaratory judgment
that the permit ban was unconstitutional in its entirety. And that this
was very much still an issue!
MEDIA ALERT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 26, 2001

CONTACT:
October 22nd Coalition
Phone: 773-230-9801
773-528-1701
Fax: 773-528-3270
chicago (at) october22.org
www.october22.org

Activists Condemn Free Fire Zone on Civil Liberties
Court Rubber Stamps Govt. Ban on Free Expression

On the day the US Senate passed sweeping new repressive legislation,
federal court judge Holderman followed the script in Chicago by upholding
the Federal Government?s ban on free expression in Federal Plaza.

A status hearing was held Thursday on a lawsuit brought by October 22nd
Coalition Against Police Brutality challenging the permit ban at Federal
Plaza. Judge Holderman announced he was dismissing the whole lawsuit,
insisting that all the demands were now moot in the aftermath of Monday?s
rally at Federal Plaza. Plaintiffs? attorney Wayne Giampietro reminded
the judge that the lawsuit included a demand for a declaratory judgment
that the permit ban was unconstitutional in its entirety. And that this
was very much still an issue! The judge refused to consider this and
declined to schedule a hearing on the merits of the case as traditionally
happens. The judge?s actions were an alarming signal that courts are
lining up blindly behind whatever actions the federal government takes to
throw civil liberties overboard. The court here abandoned any pretense of
playing its supposed role to independently review new measures being
rushed into effect.

Far from being a moot issue, Oct. 22nd Coalition argues that the
experience at Monday?s rally at Federal Plaza gave compelling new evidence
as that the permit ban is a smokescreen for attacks on free speech. The
peaceful rally did not compromise the monitoring of persons entering the
Federal Building by federal marshals. The cement barriers installed after
Sept. 11th posed no problems for rally participants or the Chicago Police
Department in charge of plaza security. No terrorists used the rally as
cover to launch any sort of attack -- a sensationalist scenario raised at
the Oct. 18th Temporary Restraining Order hearing by Judge Holderman
designed to inflame and manipulate the public?s fears. While it didn?t
enhance security, the permit ban did put a chill on free speech. Many
potential participants in Monday?s rally, including victims of police
brutality, informed Oct. 22nd Coalition that they were intimidated from
attending because the permit was denied.

Oct. 22nd Coalition and co-plaintiffs Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, Refuse
& Resist and Chicago Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal entered a voluntary
dismissal at the close of Thursday?s hearing in order to avoid any
precedent being set by the judge?s reckless position. Plaintiffs have
vowed to continue fighting the precedent-setting ban, and are calling on
others to join in drawing the line in defense of civil liberties before
it?s too late.
 
 

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