ATLANTA — Today, the ACLU of Georgia sent a letter to the governor, his chief of staff, and the Georgia Building Authority (GBA) to urge an immediate end to government censorship of Liberty Plaza. Currently the GBA guidelines forbid organized protests at Liberty Plaza on weekends and evenings without the express approval of one of eight politicians who hold statewide office. What that means is those eight politicians alone hold in their hands the power to censor messages and dissent with which they disagree.
Although the Governor tweeted his apparent approval of the March for Our Lives Rally at Liberty Plaza on March 24th, neither students nor anyone should have to obtain the blessing of the governor before they can exercise their First Amendment Rights.
“I feel that our difficulty with obtaining the permit for Liberty Plaza has opened my eyes on the extent to which the state’s leaders actively discourage us from exercising our sacred constitutional rights,” stated Elias Green, one of the high school student organizers of the March for Our Lives Atlanta. “Governor Deal, as the person holding the highest public office in Georgia, we are asking you to support to allow Georgians easy access to use the public spaces that they pay for. While safety is a priority, freedom should also be priority.”
The eight “constitutional officers” are Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State School Superintendent, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Agriculture, and Commissioner of Labor.
“Politicians have been slowly eroding the people’s First Amendment rights around the State Capitol Building for years, pushing them away so that elected officials literally cannot see or hear their voices. This is an affront to our democracy,” stated Sean J. Young, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia.