Last Friday’s standing-room only hearing before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission was among the most dramatic I’ve witnessed. There was outrage – outrage not just from me as I declared the State Department “AWOL” in our quest to free an American Pastor, Saeed Abedini — a U.S. citizen — captured by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard […]
I want to share with you a victory we have achieved in our efforts to protect the rights of those who wanted to show a powerful documentary marking the anniversary of 9/11 in several parks in New York City.
You may recall the post a couple of weeks in which I announced that the ACLJ was representing the Christian Action Network (CAN) in this case. CAN had been denied permission to utilize a number of City parks, which are available and routinely used by other organizations, to show a documentary entitled: “Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque,” which addresses the controversy surrounding the mosque at Ground Zero from the perspective of individuals who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Communications between the Parks Department and CAN’s representatives revealed that the Department’s concern over the documentary’s content and viewpoint was the issue.
We got involved. We sent the City a demand letter outlining our position and the constitutional issues involved.
“The law is clear: the City has violated the Christian Action Network’s rights under the First Amendment,” the demand letter stated. “The City’s refusal to approve CAN’s applications due to disagreement with the content and viewpoint of the documentary violates CAN’s First Amendment rights. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from ‘abridging the freedom of speech.'”
I am extremely pleased to report that the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation has agreed to CAN’s request to show the film in several City parks.
Our legal team did a fantastic job on this case and the outcome clearly reflects an important victory for our clients and for the First Amendment. We’re also pleased that the corrective action was taken in a timely manner so that our clients can show this film in the days leading up to the 10th anniversary commemorating the tragic events of 9-11, as they had planned.
CAN expressed its gratitude for our involvement in the case. “We’d like to thank everyone who supported us, and thank the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) that issued a ‘demand letter’ on our behalf.” CAN acknowledged the ACLJ’s assistance and noted that “the Department responded positively and gave us a list of seven parks and eight available dates.”
While this 9-11 issue resulted in a victory, we’re still focused on defending the placement of the World Trade Center Cross at a new museum at Ground Zero – a move that has been challenged by a lawsuit filed by an atheist group.
We have now surpassed our online goal of 72,000 Americans who signed on to the Committee to Protect the Ground Zero Cross. In fact, we’re now closing in on 100,000 signatures – a remarkable outpouring of support in just a few weeks. Thanks to those who already have signed on. There is still time to add your name to our Committee. If you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment and add your name here.
We’re putting the finishing touches on our amicus brief to be filed in support of this historical Cross at Ground Zero. I will keep you posted on when that brief is filed.