A local branch of Veterans for Peace and the ACLU filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the City of Boston Thursday, alleging officials are effectively barring the anti-war group from holding an “inclusionary’’ parade on St. Patrick’s Day in South Boston by not replying to their application in a timely manner.
Organizers said in a statement that the group first applied in March 2014 and later requested a status update on their application in June, September, and October, but never heard back from city officials.
“The delay prevents VFP from being able to effectively organize for its parade and impedes its message,’’ a statement on the ACLU of Massachusetts’s website reads.
The alternative event, now in its fourth year, follows the traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade, organized by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council. This year that parade is scheduled for March 15.
The council was criticized in the past for not allowing gay groups to march in the parade, prompting then newly-elected Mayor Marty Walsh to sit out of the festivities in 2014.
This year, OUTVETS, a group representing gay military veterans, will be allowed to march in the parade, though others — including Veterans for Peace — remain prohibited.
“Unbelievably, the AWVC has told us in the past that they did not want us in their parade because they did not want the word ‘peace’ associated with the word ‘veteran,’’’ local Veterans for Peace chapter coordinator Patrick Scanlon wrote in a statement. “St. Patrick was a man of peace, so the celebration of St. Patrick—the patron saint of Ireland—should be a day to reflect on and celebrate this great saint’s deeds and words.’’
A press representative for Walsh did not return a request for comment, but we’ll update the story should they choose to do so.