FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 12, 2005
CONTACT: Gary Glenn 989-835-7978
Steven Crampton 1-800-326-4543
Chief Counsel, AFA Center for Law & Policy
Troy City Manager 248-524-3330
Formal threat of federal civil rights lawsuit delivered
Group demands Troy city council approve permit for National Day of Prayer event
TROY, Mich. — Lawyers for a statewide family values organization Wednesday afternoon sent formal notice to Troy city officials that they city will face a federal civil rights lawsuit if they continue to unconstitutionally refuse approval of a Christian group’s request for a permit to hold a National Day of Prayer ceremony May 5th at Veterans Plaza in front of city hall, the site of the group’s annual event each year for the past decade.
Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, in a statement Wednesday accused Mayor Schilling and two Troy City Council members who voted against approving the permit of “heavy-handed bigotry and collusion to deny the National Day of Prayer Task Force its constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom, free speech, and equal access rights.”
“After routinely allowing all manner of organizations to meet at Veterans Park, including this very same Christian prayer group each year for a decade, Mayor Schilling and her ‘P.C. police’ cannot now arbitrarily deny the National Day of Prayer Task Force equal access to city hall,” Glenn said, “and cannot make the group’s free exercise of its constitutional rights contingent on the presence of other groups who share a different faith.”
“It’s not up to Mayor Schilling and her allies to decide or dictate the terms under which private citizens can peacefully exercise their constitutional free speech rights, including on city property routinely allowed to be used as a public forum,” he said.
AFA-Michigan’s national legal affiliate Wednesday faxed a formal demand letter to city hall advising Troy officials that if the permit continues to be unconstitutionally denied, they will face a federal civil rights lawsuit.
“The National Day of Prayer group has a constitutional right to use the Veterans Plaza, and denial of the forum under these circumstances is unconstitutional,” wrote Steven M. Crampton, chief legal counsel fo rthe American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi. “We therefore demand that the City promptly grant the initial NDP application for permission to use Veterans Plaza and cease and desist from its efforts to interfere with the rights of the NDP group.”
“If we do not receive written confirmation of the CityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s (approval) no later than close of business Tuesday, April 19, 2005, we shall have no choice but to seek relief in federal court,” Crampton wrote.
He also wrote that “further denial of the clearly established rights of the NDP group may result in the imposition of punitive damages against City officials in their individual capacity.”
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