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Chicken-Fried News: Median mayhem

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Remember when droves of citizens attended Oklahoma City Council meetings to speak out on the proposed median or “panhandling” ordinance last fall? We do.

Remember when American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma sent a letter to the city requesting leaders redraft the ordinance “by protecting, rather than suppressing, the First Amendment rights of Oklahoma City’s citizens”? We do.

Remember when the city revised the median safety ordinance, but still got pushback from organizations like ACLU, The Curbside Chronicle and VOICE (Voices Organized in Civic Engagement) OKC? We do.

To many, including us, it came as no surprise when, earlier this month, ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance.

As it stands, it is illegal to stand, sit or stay in city medians at intersections. The law prevents panhandlers and others from using those skinny slabs of concrete and grass to solicit donations or rest from exercising.

ACLU and the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, which include Red Dirt Report and Libertarian Party of Oklahoma, argue the ordinance violates the First Amendment by restricting freedom of speech.

A lawsuit’s complaint only presents one side of a dispute; however, those who paid attention to last fall’s hotly debated ordinance probably saw this coming.

Print headline: Median mayhem

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