State Independent Living Council Discussion Archive

NATSILC: The Indianapolis Star Says Free Speech Can Not Be Confined To A Box

Posted by: Lou Diehl
Date Mailed: Thursday, August 21st 2003 06:44 AM

Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 21:33:59 EDT
Subject: The Indianapolis Star says Free Speech can't be confined to a box

The Indianapolis Star
Today's editorial
Free speech can't be confined to a box
August 19, 2003

Our position is: Regardless of their political views, people have the
right to stand on a sidewalk and carry a sign. 

The tactics police used to control demonstrators at the National Governors
Association conference Saturday were too restrictive, compromising the
constitutional rights of free speech and peaceable assembly. 

Officers on bicycles, motorcycles and in cars escorted a small group of
demonstrators seven blocks to a holding area across the street from the
Marriott Hotel, where the governors' meeting will end today. 

Demonstrators were restricted to a few yards of sidewalk, an area that
police designated as a "free-speech zone," across Maryland Street from the
Marriott.  No demonstrator was allowed within 200 feet of the hotel. 

Marchers also were shadowed by police helicopters and sharpshooters
stationed on rooftops along the route. One reason for the excessive
security was that police overestimated the crowd size. Authorities planned
for 150 protesters but only about 30 showed up. 

Authorities' decision to confine protesters to one spot on the sidewalk
200 feet or more from the hotel was unfortunate. The First Amendment
clearly protects the rights of free speech and peaceable assembly. 

Police have the difficult job of balancing those fundamental rights with
the undeniable need for security. On Saturday, the scale tipped too far
toward security. 

Patricia A. Stewart, Director
1721 Washington Ave.
Vincennes,IN 47591

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