|Town of Jena
P.O. Box 26
2908 East Oak St.
Jena, La. 71342
318 992 2148
318 992 8127
David Paul Jones
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Beth Rickey (318) 992-2148
January 11, 2008
JENA MAYOR ANNOUNCES RESOLUTION
OF LEGAL ISSUES SURROUNDING
Mayor Murphy R. McMillin announced today
that a consent order and final
judgment has been entered into between the Town of Jena and the Nationalist Movement.
This ends the litigation
initiated on December 14, 2007. The litigation commenced when the Nationalist Movement made known its desire to
hold a rally in Jena in the aftermath of the "Jena 6" demonstration of September 20, 2007.
"When we sent the Nationalist Movement a response to their request about a parade permit
and an application, they became agitated over our requirement of a bond and hold harmless agreement concerning
possible damages, potential property destruction, and personal injury," noted Mayor McMillin.
"We were surprised, to say the least, since our visitors in September of 2007 not only met the requirements
of our ordinance but voluntarily exceeded those requirements, in terms of insurance protection.
However, this new group felt it should not have to put up what we thought was a relatively small
$10,000 bond, or provide a liability insurance policy that would have been accepted in lieu of the bond.
Since the ordinance they questioned was a Louisiana Municipal Association model ordinance adopted about
seventeen years ago and had never been challenged, we felt it was valid and that the requirements were
reasonable. After the excellent work done by our lawyers to try to protect out interests, we know now
that the ordinance is of questionable constitutionality, particularly in view of observations made by
the federal judge in two status conferences. Knowing now that the ordinance is faulty, we are in the
process of correcting it."
The agreement, embodied in the Consent Order, acknowledges that Ordinance Number 146 of
the Town of Jena, as written, is repealed because the ordinance is violative of the First and Fourteenth
Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
"The statute as written is overly broad and puts an undue burden on the First Amendment Rights of
indigent persons, and indigent organizations, such as the Nationalist Movement. We felt it prudent
to revisit the ordinance, and find it legally proper to acknowledge that the ordinance as written
is constitutionally infirm, said Town of Jena counsel Walter E. Dorroh, Jr.
We shall correct this. We shall adopt an ordinance that meets First and Fourteenth amendment tests."
Mayor McMillin added, After two status conferences with all parties and a federal judge, we acknowledge that
our ordinance does not pass First Amendment scrutiny. As we have said from the beginning, we are going to
comply with the law. Although we disagree with the position of the Nationalist Movement, and with the beliefs that the group promotes, we respect the rights of its constituents to express those beliefs.”
"As with any other visitor to our town, we will honor the rights of the Nationalist Movement members under
the Constitution and we are confident that those visitors will reciprocate. We hope that once this is over,
our town can resume being the peaceful and gracious place that it has always been over the years.
We are very proud of the quiet dignity with which our town and community has conducted itself through
the undeserved turmoil of the last year."