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Federal court rules Baltimore can't prohibit conservative rally

Federal court rules Baltimore can't prohibit conservative rally
Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist to President Donald Trump, waves and smiles as he exits federal court in New York City on August 20, 2020. He is listed as one of the speakers for a rally in Baltimore by a church group that won the right to hold the event Tuesday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 13 (UPI) -- A conservative religious group won the right to hold a rally in Baltimore during the meeting of Catholic bishops after a U.S. district judge ruled late Tuesday that the city did not have the right to cancel the event for potential safety reasons.

St. Michael's Media, which also operates under the banner Church Militant, sued the city last month, accusing it of "fabricating a pretext to cancel" their rally at MECU Pavilion on Nov. 16.

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A U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting is scheduled at that time at the nearby Marriott Baltimore Waterfront. St. Michael's Media said right-wing activist Milo Yiannopoulos and former Trump administration member Steve Bannon will speak.

City officials said they canceled the rally because of the chance of "significant disruption" due to the "characteristics of the location and the likely reaction to the planned program."

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Federal Judge Ellen Hollander said the city used "suggestive of viewpoint discrimination" in making its decision to cancel the rally.

"I conclude that the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits of its claim that the [City of Baltimore] was not viewpoint-neutral in barring the rally," Hollander said.

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She said the city may not impede negotiations to use the city-owned pavilion for the rally but did not rule to enforce a contract.

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Marc Randazza, the attorney for St. Michael's Media said the organization will move forward with the rally.

"The city's hostility toward Church Militant was impossible to fully understand, but I am happy that the judge noticed that they were constantly shifting their story," Randazza said in a statement.

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