The LDS Church wants to shut down the main free speech forum traditionally used during the Manti Pageant. I assume there are some other more legitimate reasons they have for attempting to purchase the land, but I doubt they are sufficient to make the sale reasonable. Or anything less than upsetting.
You can download the PDF of the ACLU of Utah Letter to the Manti City Council here. It is particularly frustrating that the issue so far has received little public attention. I don’t see one online news article about it.
The following transcription is mine:
BY FACSIMILE (435.835.2202)
City Council (c/o the City Library)
City of Manti
50 South Main, Suite 1
Re: Proposed Sale of Public Property to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (“LDS Church”)
Dear City Council:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah Foundation, Inc. (“ACLU of Utah”) has been advised that the City of Manti is considering vacating and selling to the LDS Church a portion of public property described as “100 East Street from the north side of the 400 North Street, north to the intersection of 100 East Street and U.S. Highway 89 (approximately 500 North).” We are further advised that this property has historically be designated a public thoroughfare and public forum, in which all people have had the opportunity and right to share their views and opinions on issues of public concern.
Although very little information is available on-line relating to the proposed sale, we have grave concerns about the effect any such sale would have on the First Amendment rights of citizens of the State of Utah and the City of Manti. Those concerns are echoed and amplified by the five (5) complains we have received in just the last few hours objecting both to the sale and to the non-public manner in which prior discussions about the proposed sale have apparently been conducted.
According to an agenda that was posted within the last two (2) days on the City’s website, the Council intends to discuss and potentially decide issues relating to the proposed sale at tonight’s meeting. We strongly urge you to table discussion and decisions regarding the proposed sale until these significant First Amendment issues have been thoroughly considered.
As you may be aware, the ACLU of Utah has litigated these issues in the past. We are happy to meet with you at any time to discuss the important First Amendment rights at stake, as well as any other concerns that you or your constituents may have related to the proposed sale.
Update: See Staci’s blog post
Update #2: News coverage of Manti street issue begins