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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, May 17, 2021

#FREESPEECH in the News May 17, 2021

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

#FREESPEECH in the News May 17, 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.) Judge tosses case against BLM protester who blocked I-25, citing free speech

A judge has tossed the case against one of 18 people cited in Colorado Springs after a Black Lives Matter protest on Interstate 25, calling it a violation of her free-speech rights.

El Paso County Court Senior Judge Stephen Sletta on Wednesday dismissed the lone misdemeanor filed against 21-year-old Molly Avion. In a two-page ruling, he found that the state statute used against her — which makes it illegal to obstruct highways — was overly broad in a way that could chill the exercise of the First Amendment and invite “arbitrary” enforcement.

The dismissal means that for now, Avion will not face trial after participating in a BLM protest on June 30 that partially blocked northbound I-25 near the Bijou Street exit downtown.

2.) Kansas college president accused of muting free speech fired

The embattled president of Haskell Indian Nations University has been fired following an internal investigation into complaints that he violated the free speech rights of faculty and students.

Ronald Graham, who began his presidency in May 2020, was dismissed Friday after the Bureau of Indian Education sent a team to the Lawrence campus last month to do an administrative review, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. Graham, an Army veteran, said in a statement that he took an oath to protect the U.S. Constitution.

The Faculty Senate unanimously declared last month it had no confidence in Graham, alleging he had shown disdain for the free speech rights of students and faculty and a disregard for academic freedom.

3.) Utah Lawmaker Planning A New Version Of Vetoed Social Media Free Speech Bill

A controversial proposal to crack down on social media content moderation could make a comeback in the Utah Legislature.

The bill would require social media companies to notify users when their post is taken down or moderated. It would also allow people to appeal the decision or make a complaint to the Utah Attorney General’s office. And, it would require moderation policies to be equitably applied.

Gov. Spencer Cox vetoed the bill in March over concerns it was unconstitutional and needed better coordination with other states.

McKell said he’s excited to spend more time on a new version and gather more input from stakeholders before it is considered during next year’s legislative session.

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