ACLU suing Cambridge over public safety charges for rallies

BOSTON (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts is suing Cambridge over what they say was the city’s policy of charging organizers for public safety services as a condition of granting permits for demonstrations.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Massachusetts Peace Action and Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund. The groups helped plan a 2018 Women’s March event in January on the Cambridge Common.

Organizers say they received bills totaling thousands of dollars for police details and emergency medical technician services after the event.

ACLU of Massachusetts Executive Director Carol Rose said Tuesday the right to gather publicly to peacefully protest is at the core of the First Amendment. She says the fees amount to an unlawful tax.

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A Cambridge spokesman says the city doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.