ACLU, Mansfield Schools Disagree Over "Threat" Of Violence
The American Civil Liberties Union is criticizing school officials in Mansfield for going back on a promise to let the local Tea Party use a school gymnasium for an event last night School administrator say a routine request to use a school gymnasium just got out of hand. The district, as it often does, lent the space to the North Central Ohio Tea Party, which invited Usama Dakdok, a controversial author and public speaker who preaches against radical Islam and tries to convert Muslims to Christianity. Mansfield City Schools superintendant Dan Freund says he canceled the event after hearing some demonstrators were planning a protest outside the school. "My goal as a superintendant is to protect students and to provide a safe environment. We have students in the building into the evening hours and not too many staff there," Freund says. But the ACLU says those perceived threats were too vague. The executive director of the ALCU's Ohio office, Chris Link, says the district should have let Dakdok speak. "The duty of the government - law enforcement and school officials - is not to suppress the speaker, but to keep the speak safe if indeed there are threats of violence," Link says. The North Central Ohio Tea Party did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but on a voicemail greeting says it will reschedule the event.