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In 2003, Women in Black Baltimore, a group that holds weekly silent vigils at the Inner Harbor against war and violence, joined with the ACLU to challenge Baltimore City's unfair permit policies.

Previously, the rules required even a single person to obtain a permit from the Office of Recreation and Parks in order to engage in free speech activities, they were limited in where they could protest.

Well, it's out with the old and in with the new! The rules have been rewritten and new spaces for demonstrating have been created. 

Here are the NEW rules:
* No permit is needed for small group demonstrations (30 people or less) in all City Parks.
* For larger demonstrations where a permit is needed, the permit must be submitted only 2 days in advance (the old rules required permits to be submitted 30 days in advance), and the 2 day period must be waived to permit protestors to respond to current events.
* The rules now provide that demonstration permit fees will be waived for any person or group that attests that they cannot afford them (no further proof is required).
* Battery operated megaphones can be used without a special permit.
* Leafletting by up to 30 people at a time is permitted throughout the Inner Harbor, with very limited exceptions, without the need for a permit.
* New spaces for demonstrating, beyond McKeldin Square, are opened up in the Inner Harbor, including Rash Field, Kaufman Pavilion, the area West of the Visitor Center, and Area 10 (the grass field between the World Trade Center and Aquarium).  In addition, the rules make clear that Broadway Square, Canton Waterfront Park, and Harris Creek Park are also available for demonstrations.
* The rules now provide for "instant permits" to be issued immediately on site (in the areas above, and in War Memorial Plaza) if a group engages in a demonstration in a permitted area without advance notice and without a permit, as long as the demonstration can be accommodated with the resources available, and as long as there is not other group with a permit to use the same space at the same time.

Learn more about ACLU's free speech victory here

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