Protest planned as county commissioners consider regulating use of buildings for free speech

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A protest is planned for Wednesday as Oklahoma County commissioners get set to vote on regulating the use of county property for free speech.

The Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners will decided whether or not to limit the use of certain county buildings for free speech activities like protests.

The measure would prohibit protesters from being within 25 feet of an entrance to certain county buildings when those buildings are open. It also prohibits protesters from interfering with pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

It states that while the board “supports the rights of people to engage in those free speech activities,” the board recognizes that public property must be used for its primary purpose of conducting lawful functions of government without undue interference.

Protesters are calling the measure unconstitutional, saying that the elected officials are “trying to curb free speech.”

The ACLU of Oklahoma has said if the measure is passed, the organization will challenge it in court.

“The proposed Policy is unconstitutional because it places impermissible burdens on the exercise of free speech and is not narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest. It limits protected speech on the doorstep of our legal system, a place where, by the Policy’s own admission, people have gathered from time immemorial to express themselves and make demands of public officials. If enacted –let alone enforced –the County can expect the ACLU of Oklahoma to challenge the Policy as an impermissible burden upon the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Additionally, if successful, the County would be liable for reasonable attorney fees incurred in the prosecution of such litigation,” a letter from the ACLU of Oklahoma read.

County commissioners are set to vote on the matter at 9 a.m.

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