Yes, They Paid

This week’s issue of CityBeat, which hits the streets Wednesday, features a Porkopolis column about the “Cincinnati Tea Party” rally held last weekend on Fountain Square.

As is often the case, space constraints prevented us from including all the information gathered for the column. One bit that didn’t make the cut answered a common question we received from skeptical callers about the event: Did organizers pay to use the square, and did they have the required insurance?—-

The short answer is, “yes.”

The permit request for the March 15 rally was received Feb. 23 and was made by organizer Michael Wilson, according to Bill Donabedian, who manages Fountain Square for the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC).

“He provided a certificate of insurance per the permit,” Donabedian wrote in an e-mail, referring to Wilson. “He paid his $2,000 in fees. The fees covered the cost of bike racks, extra police, extra ambassadors (safe and clean), PA rental, etc.”

Donabedian added, “Let me be very clear: Every group — regardless of who they are — follows the same set of rules when permitting the square.”

He then provided a Web link that lists the rules for using Fountain Square.

Some callers were upset that the square was used for an event that stirred up so many ugly emotions, like when parts of the crowd began physically threatening TV crews there to cover the rally. While that incident was deplorable, it is to the organizers’ credit that they moved quickly to bring the mob under control.

The square really is the ideal space for political expression and the First Amendment doesn’t only protect the type of speech that’s popular or that we like. It’s unpopular speech and opinions that require such guarantees.

Let them have their rallies, misguided as they are.

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