Bethany urges residents to avoid planned Aryan rally

by Michael Short on September 17, 2010

Bethany Beach is distancing itself from a controversial rally planned for the town’s bandstand on Saturday.

The town is using its’ website to explain Bethany Beach’s position on the planned rally. It is also urging residents to stay away.  That’s because a group calling itself the Aryan Nation contacted the town and asked for permission to hold a rally against illegal immigration at the bandstand and boardwalk.

The news has been greeted with headlines, shock and outrage.

Town officials have used the website to explain that they can prevent traffic from being blocked, limit the time or put other restrictions on a gathering. But they can’t issue permits based on what people believe.

“The right to assemble and express yourself  in a public area are well known and protected Constitutional rights,” according to the website.

“The same laws that allow a scoutmaster to bring his troop to the bandstand/plaza for a presentation during the summer or a minister to bring his congregation for an Easter sunrise service are the same laws that protect this group,” according to the website. “We have no special powers in Bethany Beach to abridge Constitutional rights of assembly and speech, no matter how noxious we find the message. And that, we guess, is what our founders intended.”

The website notes that town officials agreed to a permit in order to give them some control over the gathering, planned for approximately 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They say there is no threat because  security will be in place and argue that the group would have gathered anyway.

The posting said that the town isn’t publicizing the event because Bethany Beach doesn’t want to draw protesters or curious onlookers.

Finally, it concludes with a wish almost never heard in a resort town. “Pray for rain. We are.”

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