Excelsior says ‘no’ to school shooting protest event

The ACLU in Minnesota is pushing the city council in Excelsior, Minn., to reconsider its decision to deny a permit for a group that wanted to hold the Lake Minnetonka March for Our Lives, to show support for students who have marched for gun legislation in the wake of school shootings.

The city’s event scheduler said OK, according to organizers. So did the police and fire departments. And organizers hired a firm to manage a crowd estimated at 3,000 to 5,000 people on July 14.

But two weeks ago, the council said “no.”

“This event, while it has good intentions, it has the potential for completely overwhelming this city and all the police and fire and all the people who are going to be the front lines,” Excelsior Mayor Mark Gaylord said.

Organizers and the ACLU suspect there’s another reason: political differences.

ACLU Minnesota legal director Teresa Nelson said the City Council granted permits for other groups at the same meeting at which it denied the permit for the Lake Minnetonka March for Our Lives. She said the only difference is those groups weren’t holding a march for political reasons.

Nelson said the city had asked organizers to forego a parade out of concern for downtown businesses.

“The First Amendment simply does not countenance the elevation of business interests over the right to free speech,” she said in a letter to Mayor Gaylord.

City Manager Kristi Luger tells the Lakeshore Weekly News that the city has a history of denying other events out of a concern about the impact of drawing too many people to a park near downtown.

Last year, the City Council passed an event ordinance “to decrease disruptions to the residents”, but Nelson signaled that the ACLU may attack that restriction, saying she doubts “it would withstanding constitutionally scrutiny in that it regulates constitutionally protected speech in a traditional public forum.”

  • MrE85

    It is sad when opposition to school children being slaughtered in their classrooms is considered “political.” On the other hand, at least one major political party seems to have embraced gun cults more than the other.

    • People bend over backwards to make everything political. The silliest thing I recall was the flap over Heinz Catsup in the 2004 presidential campaign: http://www.shfwire.com/bush-supporters-can-squirt-w-ketchup-their-fries-instead-heinz/

      • wjc

        Heinz is ketchup; Hunt’s used to be catsup.


      • I covered that campaign and don’t recall that ever being an issue. Trivia perhaps. But if people gravitated to it, it’s only because the actual issues of that campaign were too hard for them.

        • Not an issue for sure, but it presaged today’s shallow political banter that is designed to capture attention and divert from substantive discourse. None of us knew at the time how it would be leveraged on social media to become the divisive tool we see every day in the President’s tweets.

  • BJ

    >city has a history of denying other events out of a concern about the impact of drawing too many people to a park near downtown.

    Excelsior: “get off our lawn.”

    Not a great motto for a city park, but I guess.

  • DaveW

    I’m a gun owner and I have no issue with them protesting so long as it can be done in a safe and organized manner, however, if the city has made their decision I would simply look for another venue to hold the march.

    • MrE85

      “… so long as it can be done in a safe and organized manner.”

      Perhaps they can form a well regulated militia. 😉

      • DaveW

        It’s a poor joke of such a polarizing issue.

        • Cesar

          Just admit that you don’t want these people on your lawn

          • And that no one can diss guns until every other problem under the sun is solved.

          • Cesar

            Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m all for full registration, but I know that these school shootings will continue until we do something about the level of hate that these shooters contain. Gun control is a band-aid and not much more. I live on the east side and the level of violence that is escalating here is not going to be solved by more laws against crime it is going to solved by investment in the community.

          • jon

            When you are bleeding a band-aid is a great thing to use.

          • Carol S.

            When you are bleeding, the best thing to use is pressure. The Band-Aid comes after the bleeding has stopped.

          • Cesar

            This is a hemorrhage bro

          • DaveW

            No, I don’t live in Excelsior, and I don’t care if they protest. I also don’t mind if the city tells them no. I’m for the rights of everyone here, including the city to say no.

          • DaveW

            I don’t think you want to hear the other side, you’ll let them talk but you aren’t really prepared to listen.

          • But the question here is the constitutional question. The city may not have the right to say no. That’s what the ACLU is saying. We’ll find out when it ends up in court. But I don’t think just looking for another venue and ignoring the question is a viable method of protecting the Constitution. Let a judge decide and then we’ll know.

          • wjc

            Perhaps they should just have the march anyway. Let’s see if Excelsior has the guts to try to shut it down. If so, they could come back every week and try again. Let’s see if any sanctions will make it through a court challenge.

          • DaveW

            And I would happily support the courts decision, I often stand with the ACLU on most matters.

        • wjc

          Au contraire. It was an excellent joke. Thank you, MrE85.

          • DaveW

            It was a poor joke because it doesn’t entail the intrinsic right to defend yourself. You can disagree with me politically, but there are certain principles that should be recognized on both sides and if you can’t understand the over fundamentals of this argument you shouldn’t be commenting. I’m attempting to find middle ground and shouldn’t be met with slander.

          • lindblomeagles

            I disagree. I thought the joke was very funny, and sad too. Our society is empathetic to gun rights’ owners and provides justice for “mass shooters” but there isn’t much empathy for the victims of those killed by mass shooters, evidenced by the fact that since Columbine, these incidents have multiplied ALONG with support for more guns and gun rights.

          • DaveW

            People are asking for more and more gun rights because they don’t want to be a victim. Gun-control legislation continues to rise to meet these shootings and yet the laws which are passed are not being enforced, like the shooting at Parkland itself. Columbine happened during the assault weapons ban with one of the shooters using a gun that was banned at that time. I take no issue with keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and children, but we don’t have adequate enough enforcement.

          • lindblomeagles

            We don’t have adequate enforcement?!? That’s what you’re going with?!? Hate to break the news to you Dave, but the solution to your problem, gun rights, ISN’T ADEQUATELY STOPPING MASS SHOOTINGS IN AMERICA. Have a solution for that one, buddy?

          • DaveW

            No, it’s enforcing current laws which would have prevented Parkland, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, etc. The fact that policies and current laws (state and federal) were not enforced led to the purchasing of said firearms. Of course there is also 381,000 (approx.) stolen or illegally obtained firearms (BJS 2012 data) a year that the AFT and other federal agencies is doing very little to address.

          • wjc

            The joke is not anything close to slander. C’mon, man! You can defend yourself with a better joke.

  • ajdematteo

    This is the same park that gave my high school senior class a permit for our Powder Puff game, which had been banned in our hometown. Good to see they have quality standards.