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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, August 23, 2021

#FREESPEECH in the News August 23, 2020

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

#FREESPEECH in the News August 23, 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.) ICE Deported Him After His Movie Came Out. Now He's Testing The Limits Of Free Speech

Activist Claudio Rojas says he was deported to his homeland, Argentina, for appearing in a film that criticized U.S. immigration authorities.

Rojas is one of the stars of The Infiltrators. He was invited to introduce the movie at the Miami Film Festival in 2019. Instead, Rojas was detained at a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs and Enforcement. A few weeks later, he was deported.

"They didn't like that the film had come out," Rojas told NPR in Spanish through an interpreter. "If I would have shown up at the Miami Film Festival, I was going to talk a lot. And they wanted to avoid that. So they silenced me."

Immigrant rights advocates have argued for years that ICE is deliberately retaliating against them, despite the agency's denials. Lawyers for Rojas say his case is especially egregious and raises big questions about immigrants' freedom of speech.

2.) Yik Yak, The Anonymous App That Tested Free Speech, Is Back

After a four-year break, Yik Yak, the once-popular anonymous messaging app blamed for cyberbullying and hate speech, is back. This time, the new owners are promising to take a stronger stance against abuse. The new owners purchased the rights to redevelop the location-based app from its original maker in February, calling it "the same Yik Yak experience millions knew and loved."

"We're bringing Yik Yak back because we believe the global community deserves a place to be authentic, a place to be equal, and a place to connect with people nearby," the owners said on the company's website Monday.

Launched in 2013, Yik Yak swept the nation as it became popular across college campuses as well as in middle and high schools.

The app allows users to post messages anonymously on its platform within a 5-mile radius of their location. The messages could be upvoted or downvoted by users.

3.) Appeals court upholds Colorado's anti-discrimination act in face of LGBTQ-focused challenge

Colorado's anti-discrimination law is constitutional, and its goal of eliminating prejudicial treatment of marginalized groups outweighs a business's right to communicate their anti-LGBTQ beliefs, the federal appeals court based in Denver ruled on Monday.

By a 2-1 decision, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit rejected a First Amendment challenge to the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act from Lorie Smith and her company, 303 Creative LLC. Smith, a website designer, sought to warn potential clients that she would not create wedding websites featuring same-sex couples because of her Christian beliefs.

But Smith and 303 Creative "cannot create websites celebrating opposite-sex marriages, unless they also agree to serve customers who request websites celebrating same-sex marriages," Senior Judge Mary Beck Briscoe wrote for the appellate panel's majority. "As Colorado makes clear, CADA is intended to remedy a long and invidious history of discrimination based on sexual orientation."

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