(New York, New York) - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), focusing on constitutional law, today sent a demand letter to New York City urging the City's Department of Parks and Recreation to approve a request from the Christian Action Network (CAN) to permit the showing of a documentary made about 9-11 survivors or face a possible federal lawsuit.
The ACLJ represents CAN, which has been denied permission to utilize a number of City parks, which are available and routinely used by other organizations, to show a documentary entitled: “Sacrificed Survivors: The Untold Story of the Ground Zero Mega-Mosque,” which addresses the controversy surrounding the mosque at Ground Zero from the perspective of individuals who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Communications between the Parks Department and CAN’s representatives reveal that the Department’s concern over the documentary’s content and viewpoint is the issue.
Brett Joshpe, ACLJ Counsel, said: "The City cannot refuse the organization an opportunity to show this documentary based upon its content. That's viewpoint discrimination and a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We demand prompt action to remedy this situation if the City wants to avoid litigation in federal court."
In light of the upcoming tenth anniversary commemorating the horrific attacks at Ground Zero in New York City, CAN had requested to show the documentary in seven different locations in the City. On one occasion, a Department representative rejected the requests saying the venues were "booked." A review of the Department's own scheduling calendar revealed that was not the case. On another occasion, a Department representative told CAN that the documentary touched on a sensitive subject near the 9-11 anniversary and that because city schools would be in session, there would be a greater likelihood of children and youth viewing the documentary. The representative rejected the request saying children viewing the documentary might become upset.
In a demand letter sent today to Corporate Counsel of the New York City Law Department, the ACLJ explains in detail the constitutional violations the City committed by refusing to grant CAN's applications.
"The law is clear: the City has violated the Christian Action Network’s rights under the First Amendment," the demand letter states. "The City’s refusal to approve CAN’s applications due to disagreement with the content and viewpoint of the documentary violates CAN’s First Amendment rights. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from 'abridging the freedom of speech.'"
The demand letter, posted here, requests a written assurance from the City by Monday, August 1st at 5 p.m. that the applications have been approved. The ACLJ says if the City fails to offer this assurance, it will discuss with CAN their right to pursue litigation in U.S. District Court to seek a remedy for the violation of their rights.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C. The ACLJ is online at www.aclj.org.
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