Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pro-pot group sues city for right to assemble in Freedom Park

Posted By on Wed, Apr 24, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Organizers of Great Atlanta Pot Festival, pictured above in 2009, want to hold event in Freedom Park
  • CL File
  • Organizers of Great Atlanta Pot Festival, pictured above in 2009, want to hold event in Freedom Park
A pro-marijuana advocacy group has filed a federal lawsuit against Atlanta for denying a permit to host its annual festival this weekend in a part of Freedom Park. The group claims the city is violating its rights to assemble and to due process.

The Coalition for the Abolition of Marijuana Prohibition, or CAMP, this morning will ask a federal judge to allow the group's Great Atlanta Pot Festival in the area of the park between the Inman Park and Reynoldstown MARTA station - a patch of land between Waverly and Hurt streets.

According to the lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, CAMP has "endeavored to put on a political demonstration promoting cannabis law reform," for several years in the intown greenspace. The city has rebuffed its efforts each time, saying the park is for "passive use only." CAMP says the city told the group that the event can only be held on the street and sidewalks along Euclid Avenue and Hurt Street.

Freedom Park was dubbed a "passive park" in a 1998 lease agreement between the Georgia Department of Transportation and the city. The agreement prohibits people from building on the 207-acre property.

CAMP's Paul Cornwell told CL that the group has assembled in other greenspaces in the past including Piedmont Park, Woodruff Park, and Centennial Olympic Park. In addition, Cornwall said, the group has assembled a march in that started in Freedom Park and ended in Findley Plaza in Little Five Points. He says there's no "legal definition" to differentiate between a passive or active park.

"The First Amendment doesn't allow for designation of 'passive' or 'active' parks," Cornwell told CL. "They're all active to me ... people have been prevented from using Freedom Park, which is an oxymoron."

A spokeswoman for Mayor Kasim Reed said the city "cannot comment on this active litigation matter at this time."

The hearing for injunctive relief is scheduled to be heard by Judge Steven Jones at 11 a.m.

Read the group's complaint after the jump.

Pro-marijuana advocacy group complaint against City of Atlanta over use of Freedom Park by thomaswheatley

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