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Ga. town repeals ordinance requiring permit to distribute religious tracts

ADF attorneys secure settlement for man arrested, jailed for exercising free speech rights on public sidewalk

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Distribution of religious literature on a public sidewalk is no longer a crime in the city of Cumming.  A settlement agreement reached Wednesday between ADF attorneys and city officials reflects that a “parade ordinance” requiring a permit for such activities has been dropped.  City officials used the ordinance last year to arrest and jail Fredric Baumann, a Christian.

“Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs.  They have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else in America,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman.  “Mr. Baumann acted entirely within the law.  We are pleased that the ordinance which led to his arrest and time in jail is no longer in effect.”

On April 22, Baumann was arrested and jailed for distributing religious tracts on a public sidewalk outside the City of Cumming Fairgrounds.  Police stated at the time that Baumann violated the city’s “parade ordinance,” which requires parade and demonstration organizers to obtain a permit. On Aug. 22, ADF attorneys filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Baumann.

Baumann spent two days in jail and has not returned to his activities out of fear of arrest.  A judge later granted a motion for preliminary injunction filed by ADF attorneys, resulting in the striking down of the ordinance used against Baumann.

“The Constitution does not require Americans to get permission from their local officials prior to expressing their beliefs on a public sidewalk,” said Cortman.  “This victory ensures that engaging in such activities in the city of Cumming will not result in a criminal record.”

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.