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ACLU threatens Oakwood with legal action over response to July campus carry protest
UNG Gainesville

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia claimed in a letter sent Thursday that actions by the Oakwood Police regarding a July 1 campus carry protest violated the First Amendment.

If there is no response in 30 days, the ACLU said it is prepared to take legal action.

Read the ACLU's letter to Oakwood officials.

On July 1, a dozen from Young Democrats of Hall County held signs at the corners of Old Mundy Mill Road/Mathis Drive and Ga. 53 near the University of North Georgia campus, where the group was protesting the campus carry law.

Oakwood Police told the group the signs had to be approved by the department and that the group needed a peddler’s license and permit for the sidewalk protest, according to the letter.

The ACLU claims “each of these requirements is unconstitutional as applied to peaceful sidewalk protests like the one that occurred here.”

Oakwood Police Chief Randall Moon directed comment to the city manager’s office. City Manager Stan Brown declined to comment.

UNG spokeswoman Sylvia Carson said the school’s police force was not involved in the matter.

Carson said she was unaware of what percentage of the protesters were enrolled at the university.

“If they were, there was no report made to our institution or our police, so I can’t say,” she said.

The ACLU is requesting the sign ordinance be changed, a retraining of officers on protest rights and a public confirmation “that an existing peddler’s ordinance does not apply to protests.”

In its letter, the group claims the sign ordinance is overbroad by defining it as any “device or representation for visual communication that is used for the purpose of bringing the subject thereof to the attention of others.”

The group also argued the ordinances are overbroad “because they outright prohibit spontaneous protests … due to the 30-day application process,” according to the letter.

Because the protesters were not selling goods or services, the ACLU claimed in its letter that the Young Democrats of Hall County wouldn’t need a peddler’s license.

“We are happy to provide any help or cooperation necessary to help resolve this situation without resorting to litigation,” according to the letter. “However, if you do not respond to this letter within 30 days, either in writing or otherwise, we will be prepared to take whatever legal action is required to defend the First Amendment.”

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