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Federal judge throws out rules on leaflets, speeches at parks
HARRISBURG, Pa. ‚ÄĒ City ordinances requiring people to obtain permits before they distributed leaflets or made speeches at city parks have been struck down by a federal judge.
Ruling on a lawsuit brought by preachers protesting gay-pride activities, U.S. District Judge William W. Caldwell said on Dec. 2 that the ordinances hindered protesters' free-speech rights without serving any government interest. But Caldwell refused to find the city had misused the state's disorderly conduct statute to arrest the protesters when they got out of hand.
The nine plaintiffs filed suit against the city and Mayor Stephen R. Reed earlier this year after a two-year string of incidents in which they clashed with authorities, mostly at gay-pride events.
The first incident occurred at a June 2000 ceremony to honor Civil War dead. Protesters objected because Reed had signed a proclamation that the group interpreted...