Supremacist group drops offer to settle York suit

AP, Mar. 30, 2003

YORK — A white-supremacist organization has withdrawn an offer to settle a civil-rights lawsuit against the city because the group alleges that officials continue to enforce an unconstitutional public assembly ordinance.

Richard Barrett, attorney for the Mississippi-based Nationalist Movement, said he would drop the lawsuit if York paid nearly $40,000 for attorney fees accrued in fighting the ordinance in federal court.

Five members of the group held a rally in the city Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Day, calling it a tribute to slain white York police Officer Henry Schaad. The Nationalist Movement went to court to challenge the city’s requirement that the group pay for liability insurance and police protection as well as permit fees.

U.S. Middle District Court Judge Yvette Kane allowed the rally to proceed after lawyers for the city and the Nationalist Movement came to an agreement on police protection and electricity.

Since making the offer to settle, Barrett said he has been contacted by several citizens who alerted him that the city declared a recent rally by People for Peace illegal and required the organization to get a permit.

Barrett said his federal court victory guarantees anyone’s right to assembly without meeting the city’s requirements.

“When you tread on the First Amendment, you are walking on the backs of every American,” he said.

In addition to reimbursement of attorney fees, Barrett said he also wants the city to state for the court record that its public assembly ordinance is invalid.

According to Barrett, the city has agreed to pay the attorney fees but disputes the amount.

Both sides are expected to report back to Kane in April.

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