ACLU-NJ Lauds Newark City Council for Amplifying Speech of Occupy Newark

Lifting Military Park Curfew Shows Respect for Demonstrators’ Civil Liberties FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org NEWARK – The ACLU-NJ praised the Newark Municipal Council for voting Dec. 13 to temporarily lift a curfew on Military Park, allowing Occupy Newark protesters to exercise their free speech through Jan. 7 without impediment. Occupy Newark began its encampment Nov. 18 in Military Park, joining Occupy Wall Street and other cities in speaking out against America’s social and political inequalities. “In a movement marked by cities attempting to restrict protesters’ rights, Newark sets itself apart by ultimately deciding to open its doors to free speech instead of shutting them,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Deborah Jacobs. “While other cities wage court fights to prevent protesters from using the public square, Newark’s Municipal Council voted this week to give more room to the soapbox.” The ACLU-NJ has fought restrictions on free speech in Newark in the past, successfully challenging free speech zones that limited animal rights protesters, removing onerous insurance requirements for marches, and persuading the council to overturn policies that imposed on free speech. The ACLU-NJ also has a long history of advocating reform in the Newark Police Department to respect civil rights, most recently by asking the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into departmental abuses. “We hope that the Newark Police and city government will support protesters through meaningful actions like lifting the curfew, granting permits, and working with protesters to make their voices heard,” said Jacobs. “Too often, public officials extol free speech while simultaneously taking actions to undermine it. We hope that Newark chooses to suspend the curfew for free speech activities indefinitely, not just in the coming weeks.” The ACLU-NJ currently represents the protesters of Occupy Trenton, whose activities were interrupted in October by new restrictions imposed several days after they began their demonstrations. The ACLU-NJ successfully fought for a temporary restraining order and goes back to court Dec. 19 to defend their right to protest in Trenton’s Veterans Park. To read more about the ACLU’s work around the country defending the rights of Occupy protesters, visit http://www.aclu.org/maps/aclu-affiliate-involvement-occupy-movement-arou… . To read about the ACLU-NJ’s defense of free speech, visit http://www.aclu-nj.org/theissues/freespeechexpression/

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