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DIA protesters file civil rights lawsuit over Denver, airport's permit policy

Posted at 5:26 PM, Feb 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-06 22:19:40-05

DENVER – A handful of people who protested executive orders issued by President Donald Trump at Denver International Airport last week have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that their civil rights were violated by the city and its police department.

When protesters gathered at Denver International Airport on Jan. 29 to voice their opposition to the president’s executive order, Denver police told them to leave, even though the airport is a public place.

They were enforcing a city regulation requiring protesters to file for a permit in order to gather at least one week prior to the event. Two protesters have filed a lawsuit against the city and two police officers involved saying their rights were violated.

“The requirement of a seven-day permit is just ridiculous. You can’t anticipate things before they happened,” said Nazli McDonnell, who filed the suit with fellow activist Eric Verlo.

“It was heavy handed and it deterred people,” said Verlo.

Airport officials maintain the policy in place is longstanding and necessary to maintain passenger safety.

“Anytime armed uniformed police officers suppress free speech in this society it’s a big deal,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, David Lane.

Lane feels such protests are allowed as long as they don’t interfere with airport operations.

“If you don’t like that neighborhood, where we have free speech, there are plenty of countries on earth that don’t allow it. China, North Korea, Iran,” said Lane.

City officials released this statement to Denver7:

The airport’s core responsibility is to ensure the safety, security and movement of its passengers. The airport has longstanding rules and regulations related to free-speech activities. Denver Police and the airport worked to balance the rights of individuals to express themselves with the need to protect passengers and airport operations. It’s important to note that no one was arrested during these activities, and many protesters expressed their appreciation for the way this spontaneous gathering was managed.

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