ACLU Arkansas has sent a letter to the Gould City Council asking them to repeal three ordinances passed by the council on July 13. The ordinance that drew the most criticism banned the Gould Citizens Advisory Council from meeting within the city of Gould and banned any new organizations from forming without council approval. That ACLU letter outlines other objections:

On July 13, the City Council for Gould passed three ordinances aimed at restricting the rights of groups and individuals in the city. The first ordinance prohibits the Mayor and City Council members from holding, attending, or participating in any meetings with any organization in any location without City Council approval. The second ordinance bans one organization, the Gould Citizens Advisory Council (“GCAC”), from operating or doing business in the City of Gould and prohibits the creation of any new organizations in the city without approval from the City Council. The third ordinance prohibits use of city facilities and public buildings by the Mayor and public without council approval, thereby singling out organizations such as the GCAC for unequal treatment in use of city facilities.

The ACLU states that these ordinances violate the United States and Arkansas Constitutions’ guarantees of the rights of free speech, association, assembly, meeting with public officials and participating in the political process. The ACLU urges the city council to repeal the ordinances immediately and to refrain from enforcement until they are repealed.

Gould Mayor Earnest Nash told the Times this afternoon that the next city council meeting will not be held until August 9. He advocates complete repeal of the ordinances listed by the ACLU. Some council members have said the ordinances should be repealed but Nash says others want to keep the rules and make amendments. Holly Dickson, staff attorney at ACLU Arkansas, says the laws are unconstitutional and need to be completely repealed.

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