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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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Wednesday, September 09, 2020

#FREESPEECH in the News September 9, 2020

Bliss Davis, Content and Programming Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH in the News September 9, 2020

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.) Ben Shapiro loses free speech lawsuit against UMN over venue change

A judge determined Friday that University of Minnesota officials were driven by safety concerns in conservative speaker Ben Shapiro’s freedom of speech lawsuit, according to the Pioneer Press.

Shapiro and the groups that sponsored his campus visit – Young America's Foundation and Students for a Conservative Voice – filed a lawsuit in July 2018, alleging that the University held the event on a smaller venue on the St. Paul campus instead of a larger venue on the Minneapolis campus due to political bias.

U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled the University had legitimate safety concerns after Shapiro events at other universities inspired hundreds of people to protest, the Pioneer Press reported.

2.) Board set to hire East Bay schools administrator who allegedly failed to investigate hate speech, vandalism against student

Jason Krolikowski, who is set to be approved at Tuesday night's school board meeting as Palo Alto Unified's new student services director, was named as one of nine defendants in a student free-speech lawsuit that was later settled.

Nathaniel Yu, who was a 17-year-old San Ramon Valley High School junior at the time, alleged the school district violated his constitutional rights under the First Amendment when it disciplined him for his role in creating what his lawyers called "a James Bond-style parody video" in February 2017 during his campaign for student body president. Krolikowski was not principal of the school at that time and was not named as a defendant in the original lawsuit filed in 2017, but was added in an amended complaint filed in February 2018, according to court records. Yu was also initially disqualified from becoming student body president and removed from the school's leadership class because of the video but he was later reinstated, according to court documents.

Other district officials named as defendants in the lawsuit described the video as "racist" and "culturally insensitive" and said it violated a school election rule prohibiting inappropriate campaign material, according to an amended complaint filed in 2019.

3.) Chardon creates ‘Free Speech Zone’ for rally outside high school football game after thin blue line flag controversy

A “Free Speech Zone” has been designated on the lawn in front of Chardon High School for Friday night’s football game where people are permitted to host a rally in support of police and other law enforcement officials.

It comes as controversy ignited in Chardon following last Friday night’s high school football game when a player for the Chardon Hilltoppers ran on the field carrying a thin blue line flag, which is a symbol associated with the Blue Lives Matter movement. The superintendent later banned the flag at all school events.

School officials said the “Free Speech Zone” was created “because the District values and supports the rights of individuals to gather and exercise their free speech rights. … The District is not a sponsor or participant in the rally.”

As a result of the planned rally, the Chardon Police Department collaborated with school officials on a security plan.

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