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Jacksonville's permit rules draw anti-abortion lawsuit

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By EMERY P. DALESIO
Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- Anti-abortion protesters say a North Carolina city's ordinance violates their free-speech rights by giving police too much leeway in deciding where and when demonstrations are permissible.

Police Chief Michael Yaniero said Thursday safety reasons dictated that demonstrators had to gather on sidewalks away from their desired spot in front of a women's clinic that performs abortions. He says the site is on a tight road curve and unsafe for picketing.

The federal court case filed this week alleges Jacksonville's public assembly ordinance unconstitutionally restricts free speech by requiring a police permit for protests that involve three or more people. The case filed on behalf of seven residents of Craven County and the Craven-Pamlico Christian Coalition complains the ordinance virtually ensures that public speech isn't possible free of government regulation.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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