Standing Firm on Freedom of Assembly

The Long Island Progressive Coalition's Huntington Chapter has been holding what they call the "Patriot Games" forum for almost 3 years at the Huntington Public Library. This Thursday they planned to do it again with a program based on David Ray Griffin's book about the 9-11 attacks called 'The New Pearl Harbor'. However the Library told them last week that they would have to put up a $1 million liability insurance policy to cover the event. The insurance premiums are now beyond the LIPCs ability to pay.

This has led the Huntington group to decide to protest the insurance requirement. They plan a protest meeting for Thursday evening (see Peace & Justice Calendar) at 7pm in front of the library at 338 Main St., Huntington unless its management backs down.

Marc Klein of the group issued a statement saying "This state of affairs is completely unacceptable. The basic issue is not one of cost, but freedom of assembly and ultimately freedom of speech in a public facility. The Huntington Library is a public building. It was built for the public with public funds, and with public meeting rooms to be used by community organizations.
....... The ability to assemble and speak in public buildings cannot be predicated on one's ability to purchase insurance. The Suffolk Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union has joined with us in an attempt to resolve this matter, and it has agreed to uphold our constitutional first amendment rights."

Some organizations around the Island have been able to pay the premiums when they held public events and did not make this an issue. However according to Susan McKeon of Bellport, events at the Bellport Library were threatened some time ago until the ACLU investigated. Now meetings apparently without the insurance requirement have been held there.