ACLU settles with Fresno County over Black Lives Matter banner outside church polling place

ACLU sues Fresno County Clerk on behalf of local church

FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – A lawsuit over the location of a northeast Fresno polling place has been settled, according to the ACLU Foundation of Northern California.

In June 2019, the ACLU filed against Fresno County on behalf of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno following the county’s decision to move a polling place away from the church due to the proximity of a Black Lives Matter banner and the church’s refusal to cover it up.

It argued that Fresno County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Brandi Orth violated the church’s right to free speech when she ordered the polling place moved.

In a statement Tuesday, the ACLU says it has reached a settlement with Fresno County to bring the federal lawsuit to a close.

The terms agreed to include designating the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno a voter ballot drop-box location for at least four years and that the church “shall not be required to remove or cover the Black Lives Matter permitted sign from its property during the relevant election periods.”

“It’s ironic that county officials took away the church’s polling place because they said it made some voters uncomfortable,” said Christina Fletes-Romo, a voting rights attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Northern California. “Yet now, a year later, community activists have emblazoned Black Lives Matter on a street in front of Fresno City Hall, encouraged by city officials.”

The settlement agreement between the ACLU Foundation of Northern California and Fresno County establishes that neither side admits any liability in the lawsuit.

County spokesman Jordan Scott released the following statement on Wednesday:

The Elections Department will continue to work towards providing the best voting locations that are available in our county. Please refer to the settlement agreement for other details.

The County of Fresno

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