Free Speech Not Free at Klyde Warren Park
June 06, 2016
Dallas, Texas — On June 6, 2016. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Rick Moore against the City of Dallas for their unconstitutional policy of prohibiting Moore from sharing his religious beliefs in Klyde Warren Park.
Moore likes to tell people about God’s love. As a fun and causal icebreaker, he sets up a sketch board, illustrates a series of word puzzles, and gives interested passersby clues in the form of a story that eventually leads to the topic of life after death. On April 30, 2015, he set up on the Great Lawn in the center of Klyde Warren Park to share his message with the many people who go there. He didn’t cause any problems, but shortly after arriving, members of the park’s management commanded him to cease his conversations immediately and go to the deserted Pearl Lawn on the far side of the park. For reason, the management claimed that the Great Lawn was off-limits to expression unless one obtained a permit in advance for $1,500 to $5,000 to speak for four hours. Dallas police officers backed up this claim, citing Moore for “trespassing” in a public park. While anyone can freely talk to anyone else and engage in various demonstrations – including painting on a sketch board – without a permit anywhere in the park, Moore is prohibited from sharing his faith unless he spends thousands of dollars for a permit months in advance.
On Moore’s behalf, CRE sent a letter to Dallas officials, pointing out Moore’s constitutional rights, and insisting that Dallas cease enforcing this unconstitutional policy. But Dallas officials declined. Left with no other option, Moore filed a lawsuit to secure his rights.
“Public parks have long been the prototypical place to share your views with the public,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “In such places, the City cannot burden speech in such an onerous manner. Otherwise, free speech is no longer free.”
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.