Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Square's uses mulled

Ku Klux Klan's lawyer questions legality

By Gregory Korte,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati City Council's latest attempt to legislate permits on Fountain Square could open the city to another First Amendment lawsuit, said a lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan.

        Scott Greenwood, the civil liberties lawyer who sued the city in 1993 for denying a permit to the Klan, called the effort a “totally transparent” attempt to get out from under a court order to keep Fountain Square open as a forum for all groups.

        The guidelines, under consideration by council's Law and Public Safety Committee, would create three categories under which Fountain Square could be used:

        • “Casual use,” which includes strolling and lunching.

        • “General use” as a public forum, including speeches.

        • “Exclusive government use,” which would limit activities from mid-November to early January.

        Deputy City Solicitor Robert H. Johnstone Jr. said those restrictions were written to comply with recent Supreme Court decisions.

        It's no coincidence that the time frame reserved for the city matches with the Klan's annual attempts to put a cross on the square, Mr. Greenwood said.


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