NEPA News, Dec. 10, 2002
a library has rejected for the second time a white supremacist group’s efforts to meet there, saying the group violated an agreement to restrict attendance to a list of 25 invitees when it publicly advertised the event.
The cancellation comes less than a month after the downtown Martin Memorial Library settled a federal civil rights lawsuit by the World Church of the Creator, with the library agreeing to relax its guidelines for groups wanting to meet there.
But a since-scheduled May 10 gathering of World Church supporters, which was advertised in a press release that told followers how to get advance tickets for the event, violated the “letter and spirit” of the library’s latest policy, library Executive Director William Schell said.
Schell, in a Dec. 3 letter to Matt Hale of East Peoria, Ill., the leader of the white supremacist group, objected to a “public” advertising of the event.
Hale, who recently handed his group’s day-to-day operations to a member in Riverton, Wyo., characterized Schell’s position as “absurd.” There is nothing in the settlement agreement that restricts him from announcing the meeting date, Hale said.
“They are twisting the meaning of the word ‘public,’ ” Hale said, adding that he plans to apply for another date to meet at the library.
Hale’s group in July sued the library in federal court after its request to meet there was rejected. At the time, the library cited its policy requiring groups wanting to meet there to have at least $1 million in liability insurance, but Hale’s group said the policy infringed on the right of free speech.
The library had agreed to relax the policy for groups of 25 people or less.
The library created the policy in January, less than two weeks after the World Church’s first meeting there sparked fights in the streets around the library between hundreds of protesters and supporters. Police made 25 arrests and several people were treated for injuries.