The public discussion surrounding the events on the square Saturday evening during the parade have left some wondering why there was no arrests made and why, what many called a disturbance wasn’t stopped. WCLU News sat down with two of the GPD Officers who were there Saturday night, Officer Nick Houchens and Officer Brandon Fletcher:
Mayor Dick Doty released the following statement:
“With as much enjoyment as anticipation as the Annual Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade brings, it’s unfortunate that the expression of religious views occurred like it did, but we live in a society where individuals are free to express views and opinions.
Because this clearly involves constitutional free speech issues, today, I have asked the City Attorney to explore what options, if any, are available to the city to address this issue by ordinance so that the interests of all concerned are taken into consideration in the future.”
WCLU also spoke with the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) who said that the scenario from the past weekend is religious speech, conducted by a private person, in a public forum and as such, any restriction of this type of speech would be subject to strict scrutiny under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the First Amendment of the Kentucky Constitution.
A violation of the city’s noise ordinance, it is not a violation for which an individual can be made to refrain from engaging in protected speech. At best, someone could have asked them to cease using the enhancement equipment and only then, if all other persons using such equipment were also required to have a permit or cease operation.
KLC provides cities, leaders and employees with a number of services including legislative advocacy, legal services, community consulting, training and online training, policy development and research, and more. KLC also provides enterprise services such as financing options for cities and the Kentucky League of Cities Insurance Services(KLCIS) insures more municipal clients than any other insurance carrier in Kentucky. KLC is recognized as one of the nation’s most innovative and successful leagues of its kind.
Many have mentioned “disturbing the peace” as part of the overall discussion and how you would define “the peace”. Considering it was an outdoor parade and several entries played music and vehicles blowing horns, there was live music on the square as well as live broadcasts, the scene itself would have to be taken into consideration.