The following statement was issued by the the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s Chester County branch, Chester County Stands Up, and the Downingtown Community Focus Project
In a blatantly illegal attempt to suppress constitutionally protected political speech, the City Manager of Coatesville, Pennsylvania tried to stop a peaceful rally to end cash bail to be held on April 10 in Ash Park. But organizers stood their ground and the city government backed down. On March 29, Chester County Stands Up, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Downingtown Community Focus Project, announced a peaceful rally to end the use of cash bail in Chester County.
Almost as soon as the rally’s event page was published one of the organizers received an email from the Coatesville City Manager James Logan raising objections to it. Logan not only claimed that our event qualified as a “special event” under city code therefore requiring a permit, but they were not accepting any permits for special events until April 25, 15 days after our scheduled event.
We responded to Logan and reiterated our position in a press release pointing out that free speech and assembly under a political rally to end cash bail is not a “special event,” which the city defines as “recreational in nature.” We pointed out that our rally is an exercise of constitutionally protected political speech, and their attempt to stop our event was in fact illegal. We plainly stated, “We, the organizers, strenuously oppose this attempt by the city government to suppress the exercise of free speech and lawful political assembly.”
Local news outlet MYchesco responded to our press release, publishing it in its entirety. Soon thereafter Logan reached out to us making the outrageous claim that “there has never been any intent to shut down your event” and upon further research concluded that “because of the political nature” of our event, “it does not fall within the definition of a Special Event.”
CCSU, the PSL, and the DCFP take this as a victory and a confirmation that if we organize we can win. With this victory we have a renewed confidence in the people’s ability to defeat cash bail in Chester County and win desperately needed demands from cancelling rents to universalizing health care.