Stop Privatizing Our Public Spaces
February 16, 2013
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND —
The Center for Religious Expression attorneys filed suit against
various officials of Montgomery County, Maryland on behalf of Michael
Corral, who was blocked by local police from exercising his first
amendment right to freely express his beliefs.
had come to the downtown Silver Springs area March 23, 2012 in order to
share his faith by reading the Bible and engaging people in
conversation. He carefully chose a place on the sidewalk that gave him
access to many people walking by without blocking the flow of pedestrian
traffic. But a local police officer told him that the sidewalk was
private property, and he could not engage in religious speech there, or
he would be issued a ticket for trespassing. After trying to determine
exactly where the public sidewalk ended and the private property began,
Corral was cited for violating criminal trespass laws.
sidewalk is a quintessentially American public space,” said CRE Chief
Counsel Nate Kellum. “Montgomery County’s policy of letting a private
company control the sidewalks and banning religious speech is
wrote a letter to the county on Corral’s behalf in April, seeking
assurances that he would be able to return to Montgomery County’s public
spaces in downtown Silver Spring and engage in peaceful religious
expression. Instead of granting him that assurance, attorneys for the
county informed Corral that he was limited to expressing his beliefs in
the Veteran’s Plaza area, not the sidewalk as he had desired.
hope is that the court will end Montgomery County’s policy and
practice that created and sustains the ability of a private entity to
control the existence, content and viewpoint of expression on public
sidewalks and ways in downtown Silver Spring, as this practice is
unconstitutional on its face and deeply troubling.” said CRE Chief
Counsel Nate Kellum.
for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3)
Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the
religious freedom of His people.