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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, September 27, 2021

#FREESPEECH in the News September 27, 2021

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

#FREESPEECH in the News September 27, 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.) YouTube CEO Says Google Sees Free Speech as Core Value

Susan Wojcicki, chief executive officer at Google’s YouTube, said the internet giant still holds free speech as a “core value,” in the company’s first public comments since it acceded to a Russian government order to remove material from political opponents.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. pulled a voting app from opposition leader Alexey Navalny ahead of Russia’s general election, sparking waves of criticism that the companies caved to Kremlin demands. YouTube also recently removed some of Navalny’s videos in the country after government requests.

Asked about the removals, Wojcicki said YouTube considers free speech a “core value” of its platform. “But when we work with governments, there are many things that we have to take in consideration, whether it’s local laws or what’s happening on the ground,” Wojcicki told Bloomberg Television. “So there’s always going to be multiple considerations.”

2.) A girl threatened with charges or jail over her COVID social media posts has won a lawsuit against the sheriff

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a high school girl who said she was threatened with jail if she didn't take down her social media posts about her brush with COVID-19 last year.

Amyiah Cohoon, then a sophomore, took a spring break trip to Florida with the Westfield Area High School band in 2020. The students returned to Wisconsin on March 15, earlier than planned, because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Cohoon posted on Instagram that she thought she had been infected, had been to hospitals, and though she tested negative, her doctors thought she probably had had it earlier. In a final post, she is wearing an oxygen mask and says she's beaten COVID, and urges others to stay safe.

On March 27, Marquette County Sheriff's Sgt. Cameron Klump came to the Cohoon home and said Sheriff Joseph Konrath had ordered the posts be taken down, as he didn't believe there were any confirmed cases of COVID in the county.

3.) Judge mulls policy limiting free speech at Red Rocks

A federal judge is weighing whether to halt enforcement of a Denver policy that restricts free speech activities to five locations described as poorly-trafficked at Red Rocks Amphitheater, as part of a broader lawsuit aimed at declaring the policy unconstitutional.

Joseph Maldonado of Broomfield challenged the First Amendment policy after Denver police officers and event staff told him in April 2019 that he could not preach to attendees of a Snoop Dogg concert on the sidewalk outside the amphitheater. After seeing the map of the five acceptable locations the city had established for "expressive activities," Maldonado realized their locations would diminish the size of his audience, his attorneys argued in court papers.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson heard from Maldonado's attorney and the Denver City Attorney's Office about whether he should grant a preliminary injunction to Maldonado while the case proceeds through the trial court.

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