Town of Jena
Town of Jena
Louisiana
P.O. Box 26

2908 East Oak St.
Jena, La. 71342

Phone
318 992 2148

Fax
318 992 8127

E-Mail
townofjena@centurytel.net

TOWN COUNCIL
Carl Newburg
David Paul Jones
Donnie Kendrick
Donny Richardson
Tommy Sandifer

CLERK
Cory Floyd

SUPERINTENDENT
Don Jones




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Beth Rickey (318) 992-2148

(505) 603-8800


Date: January 11, 2008



JENA MAYOR ANNOUNCES RESOLUTION
OF LEGAL ISSUES SURROUNDING NATIONALIST MOVEMENT


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agreement, embodied in the Consent Order, acknowledges that Ordinance Number 146 of the Town of Jena, as written, is repealed because the ordinance is violative of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.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."

-END-


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