Skip to comments.NYC Lawyers: Permit Rejection About Lawn
Posted on 08/20/2004 9:22:40 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
NEW YORK - The city's decision to deny a permit to protesters for a rally on Central Park's Great Lawn on the weekend before the Republican National Convention is about preserving the lawn, not suppressing speech, lawyers for the city said in federal court Friday.
The lawn would be ruined if 75,000 people gathered there for a rally on Aug. 28 and then 250,000 people used the lawn for another rally the next day, said Gail Donoghue, representing the city.
"I think two is too many back to back. The lawn would have no time to recover," Donoghue told U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III in Manhattan. "The damage would be really substantial."
So the city has "treated everyone equally," she said, turning down both requests as well as all five other groups that want to use the Great Lawn for protests during the convention, scheduled for Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.
The anti-war ANSWER coalition and the National Council of Arab Americans want Pauley to clear the way for the Aug. 28 rally. The groups argued that tens of thousands of people gather on the lawn for musical concerts each year. A separate lawsuit is challenging the denial of a permit for the Aug. 29 event.
Brian Becker, national coordinator for ANSWER, testified at the hearing that alternate sites offered in New York's other boroughs would exclude the groups from the "heart and soul" of the city.
The city's claim that the park's grass would be harmed is an excuse "to really silence political protest," Becker said.
Pauley said he would rule Monday. After listening to both sides, the judge said, "It's clear to the court that neither party has really talked to the other."
The main protest is currently scheduled for the West Side Highway, three blocks from Madison Square Garden. The protestors want to be in Central Park, thirty blocks away from the Garden. Of course the media doesn't note that disconnect.