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Opponents of United States policy toward Iraq do not have a First Amendment right to run a parade of up to 100,000 people past the United Nations and across midtown Manhattan on Saturday, a federal judge ruled Monday. Southern District of New York Judge Barbara S. Jones said the security concerns that drove New York City to adopt a policy banning all organized demonstrations outside the United Nations justified denying a permit to the march that is being organized by a coalition called “United For Peace and Justice.” Jones said the city’s policy of banning all demonstrations, parades or public events outside the United Nations since the Sept. 11 terror attacks was “content neutral” because the policy “makes no reference to the content of the regulated speech, and does not distinguish between event organizers or their views.” Jones said that organizers for the some 360 groups who planned to march in New York failed to show a likelihood they would succeed on the merits of their First Amendment claim, which is a requirement for the preliminary injunction they sought against the New York City Police Department in United For Peace and Justice, 03 Civ. 810. And the judge said her decision to deny the injunction, reached after an evidentiary hearing on Friday, was in part motivated by the police department’s concerns for security in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. “The nation and the City are currently at the second highest security alert, a fact that the NYPD must take into account in determining the level of risk,” she said. The organizers, who filed an appeal late Monday, initially filed suit Feb. 5 seeking a permit to form a parade at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at 47th Street, head south down First Avenue past the United Nations, then west along 42nd Street and, finally, up Seventh Avenue to the Great Lawn at Central Park. The city made a counter-offer, saying it was willing to allow a stationary rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, a position endorsed by Judge Jones when she said: “The police can more effectively monitor crowds for terror threats at stationary rallies than they can crowds moving in procession … .” Jones said that “the United Nations Headquarters is uniquely sensitive among locations in New York City because of its function, our country’s treaty obligations and its history as terrorist target.” She also placed great stock in the continued functioning of the United Nations. “And, at a time when the United Nations is engaged in the critical role on the question of war with Iraq, the safety of and access to its headquarters is even more essential to assure that its business and its diplomatic missions can be conducted without interruption,” she said. Jones said her task was to determine whether the total ban on this demonstration was “narrowly tailored” to address the legitimate security concerns of the government as to safety and security at the U.N. She also said she must decide whether the ban “does not restrict more speech than is necessary … .” “The answer is that this march is simply too large for the NYPD to adequately secure the safety of United Nations Headquarters,” she said. CULTURE PARADE The organizers had argued that the city decided to ban the parade across town and up into Central Park because it was a protest march and not a “cultural parade” like the Puerto Rican Day parade. But Judge Jones said the anti-war protest was “markedly different” than the annual parades, which the police department has “substantial experience” handling. Events such as the Saint Patrick’s Day parade are organized long before the event, she said, with lists of participating groups provided to police who then meet with organizers to fix “formation blocks,” or street blocks at which groups enter the parade. Here, Jones said, organizers came to the city only three weeks ago with a request for more than 100,000 marchers and, up to this point, they have expressed hope that the number of marchers would be in the hundreds of thousands. At the same time, she said, they have failed to provide police with contact names for participating groups, another indication that more planning was needed to ensure public safety. “The Court recognizes world events dictate a rapid organization in this case,” she said. “Indeed, it also recognizes that safety concerns will likely arise whenever there is a march dedicated to a pressing world event that engenders such great public support that over 100,000 participants are expected.” The city Monday held out hope that further negotiations might take place between the two sides. First Assistant to the Corporation Counsel Jeffrey D. Friedlander issued a statement saying the city would “continue to work with the organizers so their voices can be heard consistent with the First Amendment and the interests and safety of the City.” Special Assistant Corporation Counsel Gail Donoghue and Assistant Corporation Counsel Rachel Goldman represented the city. Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, represented United For Peace and Justice.

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