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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 19, 2021

#FREESPEECH in the News April 19, 2021

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

#FREESPEECH in the News April 19, 2021

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.) Minnesota has a First Amendment problem

Authorities in Minnesota are coming under scrutiny for mistreating members of the media who are covering protests in Brooklyn Center and beyond. While the state's governor has expressed regret for the earlier incidents, including the wrongful arrest of a CNN producer, there are new concerns about what will happen later this week when a jury is expected to deliver a verdict in State v. Chauvin.

On Sunday's "Reliable Sources" telecast, CNN correspondent Sara Sidner pointed out that Gov. Tim Walz also expressed regret last year when Omar Jimenez and his CNN colleagues were detained on live TV. Numerous members of the media have been harassed, assaulted, or arrested, according to a letter that was jointly signed by dozens of media outlets and filed with state officials on Saturday.

The letter disclosed that CNN producer Carolyn Sung was "thrown to the ground" and arrested by Minnesota state troopers on Tuesday night; the details of her treatment, as conveyed in the letter, are disturbing. Sung, who is Asian-American, repeatedly ID'ed herself as a CNN journalist, and showed her credentials. The letter stated, "Despite repeatedly hearing Sung identify herself as a member of the press and tell the troopers that the zip ties were tight on her wrists, one trooper yelled at Sung, 'Do you speak English?'"

2.) Apple will let Parler back on the App Store

Apple has approved Parler's return to the iOS app store following improvements the social media company made to better detect and moderate hate speech and incitement, according to a letter the iPhone maker sent to Congress on Monday.

The decision clears the way for Parler, an app popular with conservatives including some members of the far right, to be downloaded once again on Apple devices. The letter — addressed to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck and obtained by CNN — explained that since the app was removed from Apple's platform in January for violations of its policies, Parler "has proposed updates to its app and the app's content moderation practices."

On April 14, Apple's app review team told Parler that its proposed changes were sufficient, the letter continued. Now, all Parler needs to do is to flip the switch.

3.) A pair of 'pro-police' GOP bills in Missouri draw scrutiny from free speech advocates

Republican lawmakers in Missouri are looking to pass two bills this month that they say better protect both residents and law enforcement officers from “violent protesters.” Critics say the measures will curtail the free speech rights of protesters, and effectively act as retaliation against demonstrators following the racial unrest surrounding the police killings of Black Americans such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Missouri state Senate bills S.B. 26 and S.B. 66 aim to expand penalties for protesters obstructing traffic or vandalizing monuments and make it harder to cut police budgets, among other things. But progressive activists say that instead of quelling protests, these bills will only rile up more people.

“Coupled together, this legislation will ironically and rightfully bring on more protests as we continually and indefensibly fail to hold bad officers accountable and ignore those voices in the streets fighting for civil rights,” Sara Baker, said policy director of the ACLU of Missouri. Baker described the “anti-protest bills” as “nothing new in Missouri.”

“After the Ferguson uprising [in 2014], our state Legislature moved swiftly to file a slew of legislative attempts to silence Black and brown voices calling for justice,” Baker said. “At the same time, the Legislature moved to give police officers special, enhanced protections — further eroding community trust.”

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