Free Speech Protest Rights Championed In Two Eugene Lawsuits

Apr 22, 2014

Homeless advocates camped at Free Speech Plaza in Eugene.
Credit Rachael McDonald

A Eugene law firm has filed two lawsuits regarding free speech protest rights. One is against the federal government. The other will be tried in Municipal Court.
Attorney Lauren Regan with the Civil Liberties Defense Center says government is quietly chipping away at first amendment rights to protest in Eugene.
Regan: “It’s sort of this slow erosion of constitutional rights until all of a sudden people are going to wake up and realize we actually don’t have any first amendment rights left in this town. You can’t speak at free speech plaza, you can’t speak in front of the federal plaza, you know, what next?”
The federal suit is against the Government Services Administration which oversees federal property. Last Spring, Occupy protestors were told they needed a permit to demonstrate in the Federal Courthouse Plaza and they could only be there between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays. 2 protestors were arrested for trespassing. The other suit is regarding Lane County government’s closure of the Wayne Morse Plaza last spring. Eugene police cited protestors for trespass. A municipal judge will decide that case. Protestors successfully challenged earlier trespass cases in Eugene Municipal Court last year.