Syracuse, New York — September 5, 2014. On behalf of James Deferio, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) sent a letter today to various city officials in Syracuse, New York seeking relief from a ban that prohibits Deferio from carrying a sign and dialoguing with others about his faith on a public sidewalk bordering the Central New York Pride Parade and Festival.
The festival is free and open to the public, yet, Deferio was told he had to leave the public sidewalk. Deferio tried to reason with the police officer and offered to put away his sign, but to no avail. The Syracuse police officer forced Deferio to go under the threat of criminal arrest.
“This ban on religious expression is a blatant unconstitutional restriction on Deferio’s speech,” said Nate Kellum, Chief Counsel with CRE. “As long as public sidewalks remain open for public use, they continue to be traditional public fora suitable for free speech.”
Because Deferio intends to share his message at the next CNY Pride Parade and Festival, CRE requested a response to the letter in writing within three weeks.