Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly are constitutional rights. However, the courts have recognized that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect park resources.

Special events that fall under First Amendment rules include:

  • Distribution and/or sale of printed matter
  • Religious services
  • Public demonstrations or assemblies, etc.
  • Collecting signatures for petitions

First Amendment activities with over 25 participants require the approval of a “Special Event Request”.  The park may regulate the time, place and manner in which these activities are conducted.

A small group, defined as 25 people or less is not required to obtain permission through a special event request if they are located within a park's designated “Free Speech Site” and have no more than leaflets, booklets and/or hand held signs.  A permit is required for any small group that:

  • Wants to hold a demonstration or distribution and/or sell printed matter somewhere outside a designated free speech site.
  • Wants to use equipment (i.e. tables, banners, platforms, etc.) even if it is within a designated area.
  • Is an extension of another group already availing itself of the 25 person maximum.
  • Wants to guarantee they will have priority for the use of a location, including the designated free speech site.

All special event request are "revocable" without notice if the terms of the permit are violated.

At no time may other visitors' experiences be directly impeded by any special use. They may not be approached, solicited, or harassed in any way.

All printed material that will be distributed must be attached to the initial application for review.

Free speech sites have been designated at the following Stark County Park District locations found in the document below.