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ACLU sues Minneapolis over All-Star Game "clean zone"

  • Blog Post by: Maya Rao
  • May 8, 2014 - 3:31 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota sued Minneapolis in federal court today, claiming that a “clean zone” approved by the city to restrict certain activities in areas around the Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in July are unconstitutional.

The organization is representing James McGuire and Robert Kolstad, who are planning a street festival that month to honor the anniversary of the 1934 Teamsters strikes, when police officers shot 67 protesting truckers and killed two.

In February, the City Council approved a zone spanning downtown, Northeast and the University area where transient vending, temporary structures or inflatable devices, temporary hospitality events, parades and block events are banned without approval by Major League Baseball from July 5 to 20.

McGuire and Kolstad did not seek permission from Major League Baseball before filing the case, but Tom Hamlin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said at a news conference today that the case would protect those who have not yet come forward for events in the zone.

“We do this reluctantly,” he said of the lawsuit, adding that the ACLU had already warned the City Council that the resolution was unconstitutional.

The ACLU is seeking a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and later a permanent injunction barring the city from enforcing the resolution. The case will be heard before Michael Davis, Minnesota’s chief federal judge.

The One Day in July Street Festival, of which the plaintiffs are members, has previously held the events in 2004 and 2009 to honor anniversaries of the strikes. They are planning this year's festival for 3rd St. N., between 6th and 8th Ave. N., and will feature parades, speeches, live music, t-shirts, and signs.

Update: City spokesman Matt Laible has emailed a statement from City Attorney Susan Segal saying that Minneapolis will not violate free speech rights, regardless of the All-Star game or any other national event. She said she reached out to the ACLU today "to reassure them of our intention and offered to meet with them so we can discuss any concerns they have."

Laible also said that city staff have reviewed an application for a short parade on the truckers strike anniversary, and expect to approve a permit. Minneapolis has not received an application for the block event, he said, but organizers are talking with the city's special event team.

"If all goes as expected, we anticipate that permit to be routinely approved as well," Laible said.

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