In a case that we reported on in 2016, a federal district court in New York has granted summary judgment to the plaintiff. The case involves the regulation of protest speech—specifically, a protester’s activities during an LGBTQ rights parade—on public sidewalks.
A brief recap of the facts is merited. James Deferio is a Christian evangelist who has protested each year at the Central New York Pride Parade and Festival, held in Syracuse. Each year, the city issued a permit to the organizers of the parade. That permit indicated that no speakers would be allowed on sidewalks adjacent to the parade. At the 2014 event, Syracuse police officers threatened Deferio with arrest in reliance on the permit, and he relocated from the site. In 2015, the city again approved a permit for the parade, giving the parade exclusive control over First Amendment activities and limiting the use of sound amplification devices near the parade route. The 2015 permit also allowed for a zone where protest activities could occur. Deferio again attended the parade to protest. After minor verbal altercations ensued, a Syracuse police officer told Deferio that he could be arrested for his activities, and he relocated to the zone designated for protest activity.