Mpls backtracks on "Clean Zone"; ACLU says lawsuit is in limbo

Now featuring less Clean Zone!

Now featuring less Clean Zone!

A day after the ACLU announced federal lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis, the City Council attempted to address those concerns by watering down its "Clean Zone" resolution.

The original resolution approved by council in February appeared to give Major League Baseball veto power over the permitting process for a range of downtown activities and displays -- including parades, signs, and block events -- during a two-week stretch surrounding this summer's All-Star Game at Target Field. That prompted a lawsuit from the ACLU, which argues the city has no grounds for signing over its permitting process to a for-profit business.

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But a revised resolution approved today, council acknowledges "the resolution could be interpreted to restrict first amendment rights in ways never intended by the city."

The new resolution simply says permits in the Clean Zone won't be granted "without conferring with Major League Baseball."

It also makes clear "constitutional rights will preempt other considerations," and that "the city will retain its fully authority to grant or deny applications for any such temporary permits or licenses."

Another change shortens the length the Clean Zone will be in force from 15 days to six days, starting on July 10 and ending the day after the July 15 game.

We asked Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the ACLU-MN, what the city's change of course means for his lawsuit. He says that's up to the two plaintiffs, James McGuire and Robert Kolstad, members of a One Day in July Street Festival Committee that plans to hold a public event a few days after the All-Star Game in commemoration of the 1934 Teamsters strike.

Samuelson says he isn't yet sure whether McGuire and Kolstad will want to proceed or not, so for now, the lawsuit is in limbo.

h/t -- Eric Roper

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