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Monument Circle Protester Wins Federal Appeal
Updated February 5, 2014 7:04 AM
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - A federal appeals court ruling could lead to protests on Monument Circle or the Indiana War Memorial without a permit.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago reversed a lower court ruling, saying that the Indiana War Memorials Commission should not have stopped a military veteran from protesting on the Circle almost two years ago.

The appeals court ruled unanimously that the lower court judge should issue a temporary injunction barring the War Memorials Commission from requiring people or small groups to get a permit before holding a protest on War Memorial property.

Indiana State Police officers threatened to have Eric Smith of Lebanon arrested in July 2012 when he brought his 10-year-old son to Monument Circle, he says to teach him how to legally protest. Smith's filed a lawsuit, helped out by the ACLU of Indiana, but a District Court judge ruled against him. Now, the district judge will have to reconsider.

"One of the great freedoms given to us by the First Amendment is the ability for people to go to public places, like Monument Circle, parks and other public spaces and engage in peaceful assembly and protest free of unnecessary restrictions," said ACLU Legal Director Ken Falk in a press release.

The appeals court ruled that the War Memorial Commission's permit policy did not appear to be tailored to meet a government interest.

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