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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Monday, April 01, 2019


Bliss Davis, Content Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland


As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.

1.) South Dakota pipeline protest law worries Native American activists as ACLU files suit

The package of pipeline bills, signed into law Wednesday by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, have indigenous, environmental, and First Amendment advocates concerned, mainly because of SB 189, also known as the “Riot Boosting Act.”

SB 189 allows the state to sue any individual or organization for “riot boosting” or encouraging a protest where acts of violence occur. That means individuals can now be held criminally or civilly liable even if they “do not personally participate in any riot but directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons participating in the riot.”

Passed in preparation for the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the bill is “a legislative solution to ensure the safety and efficiency of pipeline construction in South Dakota,” according to a statement issued by Noem.

While it’s unclear when the Keystone XL will begin construction, President Trump issued a new presidential permit on Friday for the Keystone XL, speeding up the long-delayed process.

2.) Banning of shooter’s manifesto raises free speech debate in New Zealand

New Zealanders are debating the limits of free speech after their chief censor banned the 74-page manifesto written and released by the man accused of slaughtering 50 people at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

The ban, issued Saturday, means anybody caught with the document on their computer could face up to 10 years in prison, while anyone caught sending it could face 14 years. Some say the ban goes too far and risks lending both the document and the gunman mystique.

At the same time, many local media organizations are debating whether to even name the Australian man charged with murder in the March 15 attacks, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed she would never mention him by name.

3.) Did Burlington school officials violate a protester's free speech on Town Meeting Day?

A protester has alleged a violation of his right to free speech after Burlington school officials confiscated a banner he brought to a Town Meeting Day polling station.

"In the nine years that I've been here, this is the most serious violation of First Amendment expression that I've seen in the city of Burlington," Albert Petrarca said.

The banner, brought by Petrarca to Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes in the city's Old North End neighborhood, depicted a cross burning, a swastika and the downtown mural of prominent figures that has been criticized for failing to include people of color. The text above the images asked, "Which image isn't racist?"

Until removal, Petrarca displayed the banner to campaign against a city councilor who voted to keep the mural intact. School officials said they acted after receiving complaints that it was offensive.

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