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We’re Holding a Rally In Defense of Free Speech Today

Indypendent Staff Jun 13

The Indypendent will be holding a rally and press conference in Jersey City this afternoon to demand the return of the hundreds of news boxes and their contents that were impounded by Mayor Steven Fulop. In response to the seizure of the news boxes, which, in true Trumpian fashion, was announced by the mayor on Twitter this May, The Indy has also launched a petition calling for the restoration of free speech in Jersey City.

The Indypendent’s press release below provides further detail. You can also read more about Mayor Fulop’s news box heist at Gothamist and Jersey City Journal.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, June 13
Media Contacts: John Tarleton, Editor and Publisher, The IndypendentJohn@Indypendent.org; Vernon Richardson, Aide to Councilmember Michael Yun,  VRichardson@jcnj.org

MAYOR UNILATERALLY BANS NEWSPAPERS FROM STREETS OF JERSEY CITY
Rally and Press Conference Planned to Defend Free Speech Ahead of Upcoming City Council Meeting
When: Wednesday, June 13, 4:45 p.m.
Where: City Hall, 280 Grove Street, Jersey City, N.J.
Who: Publishers of El Especialito and The Indypendent, journalists, City Councilmembers and First Amendment advocates.

On Monday June 4, Mayor Steven Fulop announced via Twitter that he was purging the streets of Jersey City of its newspaper dispensers. At least 240 news boxes have been impounded so far, according to Mayor Fulop, including those distributing AM New York, Metro, El Especialito and The Indypendent. Other than the mayor’s Tweet, no notification was provided to publishers, the City Council or to the general public prior to the round-up or since.

“If Donald Trump had ordered the removal of hundreds of outdoor news boxes from the streets of an American city, there would be a huge outcry over his violation of the First Amendment,” said John Tarleton, editor and publisher of The Indypendent. “We should all feel the same outrage over what Steven Fulop did last week, and subsequently boasted about on Twitter no less. We must resist these authoritarian tendencies whether they come from government officials high or low, Republican or Democrat. We demand the immediate return of all confiscated news boxes.”

In response to Mayor Fulop’s attempts to generate a manmade news desert on the streets of Jersey City, The Indypendent has launched a petition demanding Mayor Fulop return the news boxes. It is swiftly gaining signatures. The Indypendent has also joined forces with Councilmember Michael Yun to hold a rally and press conference ahead of the next City Council meeting.

“It’s about freedom of the press,” said Councilmember Yun, whose constituents include immigrants and low-income housing residents who depend on the newspapers as a “way to get information about the government and the character of their neighbors.”

No legal justification was offered by Mayor Fulop for the news removal and although he has offered to return permitted dispensers, no permitting process exists. The Supreme Court has on two occasions ruled that publishers have the right under the First Amendment to distribute printed materials through dispensers on public property: City of Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Publishing Co.,Cincinnati v. Discovery Network, Inc.

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The Indypendent is a progressive monthly newspaper based in Brooklyn and distributed free of charge throughout the New York metro area.


Photo: Image of Mayor Steven Fulop’s news box internment camp from the mayor’s Twitter feed.