Thursday, February 18, 2010

Suit Won by Animal Rights Group Against Utah State Entities for Right to Protest Shows Importance of Fighting for Your Rights

Nuff said. Don’t just give in if it’s a legal issue. Congratulations to the group


Animal rights group suits settled

By Jason Bergreen

The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 02/17/2010 08:42:14 PM MST

The Utah Department of Transportation and Morgan County have agreed to pay an animal rights group almost $40,000, settling the lawsuits the group filed last year to hold a protest against fur farms.

According to the settlement filed in federal court, UDOT has agreed to pay $19,750 to the Salt Lake Animal Advocacy Movement (SLAAM) and Morgan County will pay $20,000. The settlement will cover the group's attorney fees and court costs.

SLAAM filed a court order in October 2009 seeking permission to hold a demonstration without having to take out a $1 million insurance policy or arrange security for the event.

The suit claimed two UDOT employees violated SLAAM's rights to free speech and to peacefully assemble because they refused to issue a permit for the protest. The employees told the group they wouldn't issue the permit unless the group took out the expensive liability policy and assured them the Utah Highway Patrol would provide security.

The event, called Fur Free Saturday, was eventually held Nov. 28 on State Road 66 in Morgan after the county backed down and allowed the group to assemble without paying for security.

Morgan County had originally told SLAAM members the county would require them to pay $425 for extra policing and permit fees or they must take out the insurance policy.

Attorney Brian Barnard, who represented SLAAM, said Wednesday that Morgan County has since amended ordinances restricting residential
picketing and allowing the sheriff's office to force demonstrators to pay for their own police protection.

"SLAAM accomplished what they wanted and has forced these government entities to review and change their positions and to acknowledge the importance of the First Amendment, especially for small fledgling groups," Barnard said.

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