SBD/May 5, 2014/Events and Attractions

ACLU Raises Concerns Over Wording Of Minneapolis' All-Star Game Regulations

The ACLU of Minnesota submitted a letter to the Minneapolis City Council "objecting to the wording” of the city's agreement with MLB to “prohibit such nefarious activities as ‘block events, parades, races, billboard vehicles, inflatable displays and product sampling’” in the weeks surrounding the '14 All-Star Game, but the council passed it anyway, according to Jon Tevlin of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The ACLU in the letter warns the city "would be opening itself up to legal liability for First Amendment violations.” ACLU of Minnesota Exec Dir Chuck Samuelson said that the language "doesn’t just apply to commercial ventures, it could also serve to inhibit free speech in a large section of the city for the two weeks surrounding the game,” and anyone wanting to “protest or demonstrate needs the approval of MLB.” Samuelson "got coy" when asked whether the letter was a "lawsuit threat." Twins Senior VP/Operations Matt Hoy called the ACLU’s response “a gross overreaction.” He added that he “didn’t think the wording would allow MLB to hinder any political speech.” Attorney and city council member Blong Yang said that he does not think the agreement with MLB “would stop anyone from expressing their free speech.” Yang said that the U.S. Constitution "trumps anything” in the agreement. He added that he would “side with the ACLU if the league tried to prohibit anyone’s political speech.” Samuelson, when asked if the arrangement could set a precedent for a likely NFL Super Bowl at the new Vikings stadium, said, “Absolutely.” Tevlin notes that the precedent set could mean that American Indians “wouldn’t be allowed anywhere close to the stadium if they wanted to protest the name” of the Redskins (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 5/4).

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