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    Federal Court Grants LB Eco-Activist Diana Mann & LB Area Peace Network Preliminary Injunction, Finds LB's Parade/Demonstration Ordinances Violate Free Speech, Enjoins Enforcement Pending Trial, Says Plaintiffs Have Likelihood Of Success On Merits

    We post fed'l court preliminary injunction ruling verbatim

    (November 16, 2004) -- LB eco-activist Diana Mann and the LB Area Peace Network (LBAPN) have a scored a major, possibly decisive victory in federal court against LB City Hall after city officials first billed, then sued them in state court to recover costs for city services related to a political march-demonstration.

    In a ruling dated November 15, a Los Angeles federal district court issued a Preliminary Injunction finding that LB's ordinances on parades (demonstrations) violate constitutionally protected free speech rights and stating that Ms. Mann and LBAPN have a likelihood of success on the merits of their civil rights suit (which also seeks damages).

    In granting Ms. Mann and LBAPN a Preliminary Injunction -- a 24-page ruling that posts in full on a link below -- Federal District Judge S. James Otero found that LB Municipal Code Chapter 5.60 (governing parades/demonstrations) is unconstitutionally overbroad (potentially applying to all kinds of speech) and "does not provide standards or guideposts that would allow the court to determine whether the City is assessing fees and conditions in an objective manner, or discriminating against disfavored speech." The Court ruling stated in part:

    In the instant case, the Peace Network organized a rally on similar subject matter on two occasions, separated by roughly one month in time. This point alone lends itself to a finding that the City is engaged in post hoc rationalization of its licensing decisions....

    Because the court has...determined that the LBMC [LB Municipal Code] is an unconstitutionally overbroad restraint on free speech and assembly, it [is] not necessary to address this issue...Implicit in this court's the conclusion that the LBMC encompasses nearly every form of expression, and thereby leaves the First Amendment rights of the citizens of Long Beach vulnerable to the caprice of City administrators. It cannot be said that a reasonable alternative avenue of expression exists in the City of Long Beach when peaceful protestors are fined for making images in the sand.

    The Court's order forbids City Hall from enforcing LB Municipal Code Chapter 5.60 pending a trial on the merits.

    Official reaction is pending as we post.

    The legal brouhaha began after LB City Hall sued the activists in state court to recover city costs related to a peaceful 2003 demonstration against U.S. policies in Iraq...and City Hall won a state court verdict of roughly $7,000 against the activists.

    Ms. Mann and LBAPN then brought suit in federal court, alleging that LB's ordinances regarding parades (demonstrations) violated their free speech rights and continue to violate the rights of others.

    [Photo shows random marchers, not named defendants]

    City Hall originally named Ms. Mann as one of the defendants in state court but ultimately dismissed her since (the federal court complaint alleges) she wasn't present at a meeting where an agreement regarding the March 2003 event permit was signed and had not agreed to any costs for the event.

    In the federal court suit, the complaint alleges that Ms. Mann "has engaged in anti-war expressive activity before in Long Beach. She would like to engage in similar activities in the future, as she and LBAPN have done in the past, but she is concerned that she could face personal liability for excessive costs and indemnification under the Long Beach permit scheme."

    To view the Court's Preliminary Injunction ruling in pdf form, click here.

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