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April 8, 2014

City Council may vote on alternative for vigil location

(Continued)

‘RIGHTS OF PATRONS’

Armstrong said Calnon and Clute’s emails addressed only the free-speech rights of the prayer-vigil participants and not the rights of patrons of Planned Parenthood to seek services without interference.

“The proximity of the prayer vigil to business traffic interferes in the freedom of those patrons to come and go without being confronted by the unsolicited messages conveyed by those praying,” Armstrong said. 

“Do Northern Adirondack Planned Parenthood patrons not have the right to seek services without confrontation, no matter what form this may take?

“Would we allow protesters to stand in front of Irises (Cafe & Wine Bar) and offer prayers on behalf of the animals who die to feed the patrons who go to Irises? I feel that’s a perfectly analogous situation,” she said, adding it could possibly be considered an “impediment to commerce.”

RESTRICTIONS ALLOWABLE

Clute said the council’s vote shouldn’t raise any legal issues.

“Government has the right to regulate speech activities as to the time, manner and place of speech so long as they do so reasonably.”

The attorney pointed to a request to protest homosexuality in Trinity Park made by Westboro Baptist Church and Pastor Fred Phelps almost 10 years ago.

The council voted to permit the group to protest across the street.

“We didn’t agree to anything, but we said if you want to protest, this is where you protest,” Clute said.

‘STILL FOR IT’

At the March 13 vote on the Apostles for Life request, Councilor Paul “Crusher” O’Connell (D-Ward 6) and Councilor Dale Dowdle (R-Ward 3) voted in favor of the Apostles for Life request.

“They’ve never had a problem in the past, and I’m still for it,” O’Connell said at the April 3 meeting, adding that people protest weekly outside Planned Parenthood. 

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