Free Speech Press Release

04.17.12

Allow Anti-Fracking Activists to Participate in Medina County Earth Day, Says ACLU

Parks District Barred Group Over "Contraversial" Topic

Read the letter to the Medina County Parks Director.

MEDINA, OH- Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio urged officials at the Medina County Parks District to reverse its decision to bar Concerned Citizens of Medina County from participating in Medina’s Earth Day celebration. The event, scheduled for Saturday, April 21, will feature several community organizations distributing literature to members of the community. In an email from the Medina County Parks Department, Concerned Citizens of Medina County was told it could not participate in the event because it was “too controversial.”

“This is censorship, plain and simple,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. ”At the core of the First Amendment is the principle that the government cannot silence those they disagree with or find too controversial.”

“Community events should include a marketplace of ideas where residents can decide what they wish to explore and what they choose to ignore,” added Link. “Anti-fracking activists should have the same opportunity to express their views as other community and environmental groups who have been allowed to distribute information.”

Fracking refers to hydraulic fracturing, which is the process of injecting water with chemicals underground to release natural gas or petroleum deposits. The issue has been the subject of public debate as proponents point to the economic benefits of fracking, while opponents have raised concerns over environmental consequences.

Among the exhibitors who were approved to exhibit at the Earth Day celebration include the Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, and many others.

“It should not be the government’s job to decide who can or cannot express their political views,” said Link. “What may be ‘controversial’ to one person may be welcomed information to another. The Medina County Parks District should leave it up to Earth Day attendees whether they want to listen to Concerned Citizens of Medina County’s message—not seek to completely silence it.”