Weaponizing Jan. 6 To Trample on Free Speech

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by Church Militant  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 30, 2021   

Church Militant demand letter to Baltimore city solicitor

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As Church Militant has previously reported, Baltimore City Solicitor James Shea abruptly canceled our Bishops: Enough Is Enough Prayer Rally, scheduled for Nov. 16, citing baseless allegations of fear of "violence." Church Militant sent the following demand letter on Friday.

Mr. James Shea
Baltimore City Law Department
City Hall, Room 250
100 N. Holliday Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

August 27, 2021

Mr. James Shea:
We are formally demanding that the prayer rally originally scheduled to take place at the MECU Pavilion on Nov. 16, 2021 by St. Michael's Media/Church Militant be reinstated. We require a response within five business days.


The MECU Pavilion is located next to the Marriott Waterfront Hotel,

where the bishops hold their annual meeting, and is visible

from their conference room

After the MECU Pavilion agreed to allow us to host our event, relying on that legal and binding contractual agreement, St. Michael's Media promoted the event publicly and secured 16 nationally known speakers to appear at the rally. Relying on that agreement, we received more than 2,000 reservations, with the expectation the event would reach full capacity. Many attendees purchased plane tickets and made hotel arrangements. Our staff also spent many hours organizing and planning.

The MECU Pavilion was specifically chosen because of its proximity to the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott Hotel, where the U.S. bishops hold their annual meeting. Our prayer rally was meant to be a visible protest of the bishops' corruption, sex abuse cover-up and financial malfeasance. In addition to talks, we had planned on praying the Rosary. Thus the event was both in the public interest and also had an overriding religious dimension.

The reasons offered to cancel our event were a pretext and utterly without basis, resulting in violation of our First Amendment rights.

Holding the event elsewhere would be moot and would eliminate the very purpose of the rally, which is meant to be a visible protest directly in view of the bishops.

We held the exact same rally in the same location during the U.S. bishops' meeting in 2018. The rally was peaceful, and there were no complaints from MECU management or from the city. We therefore have a demonstrated track record of peaceful and orderly presence in Baltimore.

On Aug. 5, 2021, you abruptly canceled our rally. We were never advised of any contract provision we had violated. Neither did you substantiate the outrageous, slanderous allegation that St. Michael's Media was linked to the Jan. 6 Capitol protest — a claim we vehemently deny.


James Shea is a prominent Catholic

with ties to the Baltimore archdiocese

We are also highly suspicious of your personal close associations with the U.S. hierarchy, coupled with the reality that the U.S. bishops, who were the ones being prayed for and protested against by 3,000 Catholic U.S. citizens, are the only substantive beneficiaries of your actions.

We pose no threat to anyone's health or safety — and you know that. Your friendly ties to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have the appearance of collusion with the only entity that stands to benefit from our cancellation — even under false pretenses.

Furthermore, the reasons offered to cancel our event were a pretext and utterly without basis, resulting in violation of our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, assembly and free exercise of religion.

We also believe you are in breach of contract for canceling the agreement based on this pretext, after we had relied on the agreement to our detriment. 

The right to peaceably assemble and protest is a cornerstone of our constitutional government. 

Government may not violate those rights without a compelling government interest, using the least speech-restrictive option available. You have provided no such "compelling government interest" here because the reason you offer — an alleged link to Jan. 6 — is utterly without basis and demonstrably false. 

Likewise, the quickly evaporating case, as admitted this past week by the government against those who actually were present in D.C. on Jan. 6th, further weakens your claims.

Even so, the government is not allowed to weaponize security concerns to trample on citizens' First Amendment rights. You are engaging in a heckler's veto, which is unconstitutional.

The government is not allowed to weaponize security concerns to trample on citizens' First Amendment rights.

If you stand by your original, baseless decision, or fail to reply, we will initiate legal proceedings against you personally, as well as the City of Baltimore, in whose name you spuriously acted to deny us our First Amendment rights.

We will not sit idly by while the city tramples on our rights because you do not agree with our viewpoint and have fabricated salacious stories about us to justify your abuse of authority.

While this is still a free country, no thanks to the political party (Democrat) you personally are so wedded to, as well as a corrupt hierarchy wildly supportive of your political party, we will fight this with every means available.

We are submitting this demand letter that the city reverse its decision and reinstate our Nov. 16 rally. Your deadline to respond is 12 p.m. ET Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.


Michael Voris
St. Michael's Media


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