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Rallying for Free Speech

Panama City Beach, Florida — June 1, 2015. The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) sent a letter today to officials of the City of Panama City Beach, pursuing relief from a policy that prevents Richard McMahon from sharing his religious beliefs in Frank Brown Park during the Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally.

On May 1, 2015, McMahon was passing out Bible tracts in Frank Brown Park when event organizers ordered him to stop. A Panama City Beach police officer backed up the organizers, warning McMahon that failure to comply would result in arrest for “trespassing” in a public park. Though the event was free and open to the public, McMahon was not free to share his beliefs because event organizers did not approve of his message.

Seeking to avoid similar constitutional violations at other public events, McMahon seeks relief in the CRE letter.

CRE’s letter explains that McMahon’s First Amendment right to speak in a public park doesn’t evaporate just because a private entity is hosting the otherwise public event. The letter requests written response from the City of Panama City Beach within three weeks.

“McMahon simply wants to share his faith in a public park,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “A public park during a public event is the perfect place and time for citizens to share their views.”

Center 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. For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.

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