May 8, 2001
(Boston, MA) â€“ The American Center for Law and Justice, an international public interest law firm, announced today that the City of Newburyport, Massachusetts has replaced two commemorative brick pavers that were removed by the city from a city park because they contained religious messages.
â€œWe are delighted to announce that the First Amendment rights of our clients have been protected,â€ said Ben Bull, Senior Attorney with the ACLJ, which filed suit against the City of Newburyport. â€œFrom the very beginning, we did not believe that it was proper for the city to remove the brick pavers and effectively censor the religious messages of our clients. By agreeing to replace the brick pavers, the city has taken the corrective action necessary to bring this important case to a close.â€
The ACLJ filed suit in U.S. District Court in Boston in January 2001 on behalf of Thomas Savastano and Marie Cupo, two residents of Newburyport who purchased commemorative bricks during a fundraising project for improvements to Woodman Park, a public park located in Newburyport. Thomas Savastano had a brick inscribed with the message â€œJesus Loves Youâ€ and Marie Cupo put the message â€œFor All the Unborn Childrenâ€ on a brick. The bricks were installed in the public walkway in Woodman Park.
The suit contends that Mayor Lisa Mead ordered the bricks removed from the walkway at the park in September 2000. The suit contends the Mayor said the messages on the bricks were â€œreligiousâ€ and needed to be removed from the sidewalk because some persons in the community were â€œoffendedâ€ by them. The bricks were removed by the city in late September 2000.
In an agreement signed today by U.S. District Court Judge Morris Lasker, the City of Newburyport agreed to replace the two brick pavers in Woodman Park and the ACLJ asked the court to dismiss its suit. The city replaced the two brick pavers in the walkway last week.