Judge Rules "Buffer Zones" Stay

Judge Rules "Buffer Zones" Stay

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John Daley ReportingSalt Lake City's plan for free speech zones during this weekend's General Conference stands--at least for now.

The group World Wide Street Preachers asked Judge Tena Campbell to halt the city's plan for free speech zones by issuing a temporary restraining order. They argued the plan infringes on their religious and free speech rights.

Today Judge Campbell denied that request, finding that the city had sufficiently taken into account those rights and balanced them with concerns for public safety.

The leader of on street preacher organization said he did not expect to get a fair hearing here in Utah, and he criticized the decision.

Lonnie Pursifull, Street Preacher: "Congress shall make no laws concerning the establishment of religion or the practice thereof. We're not protesters, we're preachers and we will preach the gospel. And they can't put rules and regulations on preaching God's word."

Ed Rutan, Salt Lake City Attorney: "The challenge is to find a way that the constitution permits to make sure that people have the opportunity to engage in exercising their free speech rights, but at the same time make sure that the 25,000 people who are going to be walking through this area are not subjected to any danger as pedestrians."

An attorney for the street preachers said they'd been preparing for this possibility. They had papers ready today and immediately appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The court there apparently indicated it would take a look at the case and come down with a decision in time for this weekend's conference.

But for now the rules will stand and those attending conference can expect to see street preachers in the dedicated zones--as well as a stepped up police presence.

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