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ACLU Gathers Support for Battle over Main St. Plaza

ACLU Gathers Support for Battle over Main St. Plaza

Posted - Aug. 3, 2003 at 6:07 p.m.



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Kimberly Houck reportingThe debate over the Main Street Plaza is brewing once again.

The American Civil Liberties Union is gathering support from plaintiffs of the first lawsuit against Salt Lake City to file another complaint in the Federal District Court.

The ACLU held a closed door meeting with the First Unitarian Church Sunday.

The ACLU got its support for the first lawsuit against the city in the Main Street Plaza case. And today, Unitarians decided to join other plaintiffs for another lawsuit.

The ACLU's relationship with the First Unitarian Church dates back to the 1950s.. the McCarthy era... when they both fought for civil rights.

Today, the ACLU reminded the congregation of their history, and then asked again for their support in a lawsuit against Salt Lake City for selling a portion of Main Street to the LDS Church.

Penny Breiman/Member of First Unitarian Church: "The lawsuit is against Salt Lake City. This is in no means and should not be construed in any way, shape, or form as a lawsuit against the LDS Church."

The ACLU and Unitarians want to reverse the recent sale of the Main Street Plaza and again make it available to the public.

"We think that when the city council voted to vacate their easement, they did not have proper secular reason for doing that. And we think the courts will agree with us," says ACLU a ttorney Dani Eyer.

Today, the Unitarian Church agreed with them. In an 81 to 23 vote, the members decided to be one of many plaintiffs in a future complaint filed against the city.

"I voted for having the church continue on because I believe it's important that we support our civil liberties and our civil right," says Cindy King.

"I believe that if our church doesn't uphold the views of the little guy who wants to speak their opinion on the public easement, then no one would," Paul Rice added.

Unitarians says their decision to support a possible second lawsuit came from the church's mission statement, which says they pledge to uphold free thought and will promote a free and open religious community in Utah.

"We feel like we have a strong case. We think the constitutional issues are strong and important," Eyer says.

The ACLU still has to get a vote from its local board in favor of moving forward with this lawsuit before it will file a complaint in the Federal District Court.

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