Denver, Colorado — October 15, 2020. The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a lawsuit in federal court today, challenging City and County of Denver policy that bans every form of free speech from Red Rocks Mountain Park except in five small, remote areas of the park.
CRE client Joseph Maldonado wants to tell others about how God has changed his life for the better, and how others can come to know God, too. On April 18, 2019, Maldonado went to Red Rocks Mountain Park to share his evangelistic message with people heading toward the park’s amphitheatre to attend a concert. He stood on a wide open sidewalk in the vicinity of the amphitheatre, positioning himself out of people’s way, and shared his message with passersby with his natural voice. He wasn’t loud or disruptive, and he didn’t cause any problems.
Yet, not long after arriving, park officials and Denver police approached and instructed him to stop speaking. They explained that Denver had established a policy that forbid free speech anywhere in the park except for five remote spots, all of which were thousands of feet from the amphitheatre. Maldonado pointed out that he wasn’t causing any problems, and that the areas offered no people to speak with, but the police were not swayed, advising that Denver’s policy was absolute, and Maldonado must cease speaking and relocate or face criminal citation. Not wanting to get cited and knowing he couldn’t reach anyone in the designated spots, Maldonado left.
Hoping to resolve the issue, Maldonado contacted Denver to find out if there was any way he could speak without being subject to the policy, but Denver stood by its policy and application. Maldonado contacted CRE, and CRE sent a letter on his behalf pointing out the constitutional infirmity, and asking Denver to allow Maldonado to engage in his harmless expression in areas where he has reasonable access to people.
But Denver remained resolute, assuring again, that it would continuing enforcing its patently unconstitutional policy. Litigation became Maldonado’s only option.
“Denver’s policy is absurdly restrictive of free speech, banning harmless expression in the vast majority of a public park,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Denver’s policy is unconstitutional. The government cannot confine the Gospel.”
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.