American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts
Veterans for Peace sues City of Boston for St. Patrick’s Peace Parade permit
Suit challenges City’s eleven month delay in acting on permit application and charges favoritism for South Boston parade organizers who continue to exclude most LGBT groups.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 12, 2015
Christopher Ott, communications director, 617-482-3170 x322, email@example.com Patrick Scanlon, Veterans for Peace, 978-590-4248, Vets4PeaceChapter9@gmail.com
BOSTON — The local Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley D. Butler Brigade (VFP) filed a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court today against the City of Boston because the city has refused to act in a timely way on VFP’s application for a permit to hold its annual St. Patrick’s Peace Parade beginning at noon in Boston on March 15. The delay prevents VFP from being able to effectively organize for its parade and impedes its message.
Since 2011, VFP has organized its inclusive, non-discriminatory parade along the same route used by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council (AWVC), a group that has refused for many years to allow gay rights groups and others, including VFP, to march with identifying signs. According to Patrick Scanlon, the coordinator of the Smedley D. Butler Brigade of VFP, the AWVC parade has begun at 1:00 p.m. in the past, and the city has relegated the VFP’s parade to commencing various distances behind the AWVC parade, forcing it to begin late in the afternoon.
Scanlon said that despite a recent deal touted by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, in which the AWVC will allow one gay group, “OutVets,” to march in the next AWVC parade, the AWVC continues to bar most gay rights, peace and environmental groups. It is not an inclusive parade like VFP’s.
“Veterans for Peace applied on March 25, 2014 for a permit to march at noon this coming March 15 to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day,” said Scanlon,. “We asked the City three times, in June, September and October what was happening with our application, and no one from the City ever responded.” The City’s refusal to act on the VFP parade application makes it very difficult for VFP to do all the organizing needed to hold a parade, he said.
“Unbelievably, the AWVC has told us in the past that they did not want us in their parade because they did not want the word ‘peace’ associated with the word ‘veteran,'” Scanlon said. “St. Patrick was a man of peace, so the celebration of St. Patrick—the patron saint of Ireland—should be a day to reflect on and celebrate this great saint’s deeds and words. Veterans for Peace celebrates the life of Saint Patrick and the proud Irish traditions without militarism. Our Peace Parade celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is inclusive and open to anyone who would like to walk for peace. As far as we know, this is the only annual peace parade anywhere in the entire country.” VFP uses the phrase “The People’s Parade for Peace, Equality, Jobs, Environmental Stewardship, Social and Economic Justice” to describe the event.