A federal judge in Manhattan has denied antiwar demonstrators the right to march in front of the U.N.
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones concluded that heightened security concerns posed by up to 100,000 protesters would threaten the public safety and security of the U.N.
In her 26-page ruling, Jones said that the First Amendment guaranteed the right to protest but did not ensure the right to march.
She noted that demonstrators could hold a stationary rally sanctioned by the city at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, located at 47th Street Between First and Second Avenues. An overflow crowd could gather two blocks north along 49th Street between First and Second.
Signs are ready for the peace march planned for Feb. 15 outside the United Nations, but the march permit was denied.
(Newsday Photo/Jiro Ose)
Spokespersons for the antiwar group, United for Peace and Justice, said the group wanted to hold a rally and march past the United Nations on Saturday. They wanted to gather at the plaza, then march down First Avenue toward 42nd Street, going across town on 42nd Street and turning uptown on Seventh Avenue to head to Central Park, where a rally would be held.
However, Jones cited heightened security concerns as a reason the city was justified in denying a permit.
"The court finds that the heightened scurity concerns posed by an unorganized large-scale march threatens the city's interest in maintaining the public safety," she said.
She said that the city had denied permits for all demonstrations since September 11 and said that the UN was a "uniquely sensitive" area, noting that it had once been targeted by terrorists.
Lawyers for the New York Civil Liberties Union, who sued the city on behalf of the antiwar group, argued that the city had granted permits to other large groups for marches such as the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Christopher Dunn, a lawyer for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the group would immediately appeal Jones's ruling.
"There is no question in our mind that the First Amendment entitles people to march in the street to protest their opposition to a possible American war in Iraq," he said. "We believe this decision is wrong and intend to appeal it immediately."
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