SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The Latest on Vice President Mike Pence’s planned visit to Savannah for St. Patrick’s Day (all times local):
The police chief of Savannah says authorities will respect the free speech rights of protesters and other spectators during Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Georgia for St. Patrick’s Day.
Police Chief Mark Revenew told reporters Friday “everyone has a right to an opinion and we’re going to respect that.” His remarks came after city officials rapidly backed off a plan to ban signs and posters from an area of the city being secured for Pence’s visit Saturday.
City spokeswoman Michelle Gavin said “miscommunication with the Secret Service” was to blame.
Savannah officials reversed course on the sign ban Friday after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court.
Parade organizers expect roughly 500,000 to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah.
An attorney for protesters in Georgia is claiming victory in a brief free speech fight with Savannah officials after the city scrapped plans to ban signs from a leg of its St. Patrick’s Day parade being secured for Vice President Mike Pence.
Attorney Will Claiborne said Friday that City Hall lawyers have assured him they will allow “handheld signs without restriction” during Pence’s visit Saturday.
Claiborne joined the American Civil Liberties Union in filing a federal lawsuit Friday on behalf of four people who said Savannah’s plans to prohibit signs and posters violated their free speech rights.
The lawsuit prompted an immediate reversal from Savannah city officials, who planned an afternoon news conference Friday. City spokeswoman Michelle Gavin said she had previously “put out misinformation” that signs would be banned.
The American Civil Liberties Union says it’s suing the city of Savannah over plans to ban signs in an area of Savannah being secured for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The announcement Friday prompted an immediate reversal from Savannah city officials. City spokeswoman Michelle Gavin told The Associated Press she misspoke when she said earlier in the week that signs would be prohibited in a secure zone during Pence’s visit Saturday. Gavin says the city is allowing signs with some possible restrictions.
Sean Young is the ACLU’s Georgia legal director. Young says the ACLU is seeking a judge’s order blocking the sign prohibition because it violates free speech rights.
Parade organizers expect about 500,000 people to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah.