Twin Cities Pride fest, Park Board argue over free speech rights again

Categories: GLBT

Thumbnail image for johnson family pride fest.jpg
Brian Johnson, center, and his family handed out bibles at last year's Pride festival.
Here we go again.

Just like last year, the city has a battle brewing on its hands over free speech rights in Loring Park during the Twin Cities Pride festival.

Organizers want an exclusive use permit for the park that would entitle them to limit opposition groups to setting up shop in an official protest space.

The Park Board staff says Loring Park is a public forum where all free speech rights must be respected, and they say Pride Fest should only be granted its traditional non-exclusive permit.

The Downtown Journal reports the conflict will be aired in public at an April 20 commissioners' meeting.

Last year, festival organizers lost their legal battle to prevent Wisconsin preacher Brian Johnson from strolling the park and handing out bibles. His message ran contrary to that of the festival's celebration of inclusiveness, organizers said, and he would be disruptive.

Preacher Brian Johnson wasn't welcomed by everyone at Pride fest.
We followed him around the day he showed up, and the biggest disruption he appeared to cause was the scrum of TV cameras that followed his every move for about 10 minutes. Once the cameras went away, he and his family wandered around in "Free Bibles" t-shirts and did some low-key, Jesus-is-your-friend talk with folks who gave him the time of day.

The real disruption came from a group of evangelical preachers who set up shop alongside one of the paths in the park and preached hellfire and brimstone to crowds of gay folk walking by as counter-demonstrators and Minneapolis cops silently stood nearby, keeping an eye out for trouble that never came.

If Pride Fest gets its exclusive permit, groups like those evangelicals we saw would be limited to a protest pen at the dog park. Preachers like Johnson would still be allowed to walk around as long as they didn't cause a ruckus.

The festival this year is scheduled for June 25-26.

Past Coverage:

My Voice Nation Help
3 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Kirk the Conservative Jerk
Kirk the Conservative Jerk

Can't wait to hear that Target Corp. strips this "controversial group" of the $25,000+ in annual funding for the Pride Festival. Remember, The gays were protesting the financial donations to Republicans by Target just because of the beliefs of some Republicans are thought to be as "controversial" to gays.I cant think of anything more controversial than dressing up in ass-less chaps while publicly touting their fondness to the poking of another guy in the ass while in front of children. Perhaps that's not twisted and "controversial" in their demented minds.

By the way, If you wish to see a real live, in the flesh bigot, attend the Pride fest. (look for the flamboyant ones)Ask them if they support Target and their funding of Republicans.Then ask them if they support Target funding their "Fest"

It's time for everyone to stand up to bullies everywhere, and the LBGT is a bully on steroids. Attend an event they intend to crash...

Kissel
Kissel

They're going about this all wrong. The organizers just need to declare that there is a threat from anarchists and that national security is an issue. All you need for proof is a crappy video posted on YouTube that some might interpret as satire. I seem to recall that working for the GOP a few years ago in St. Paul...

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...