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18 PLANNING TO SUE STATE OVER ARRESTS AT ARTPARK

Eighteen demonstrators are planning to sue the state for their arrest in September when they protested cancellation of an Artpark performance that would have burned Bibles.

Buffalo attorney Mark Mahoney filed notice of intent to sue in the State Court of Claims on behalf of the demonstrators, most of whom live in the Buffalo area.

The protesters are claiming false arrest and denial of their constitutional right of free speech, Mahoney said.

It would be at least the second lawsuit filed against the state since it banned a scheduled performance by Mark Pauline of the Survival Research Laboratories of San Francisco. That group is also pursuing a lawsuit against the state.

Charges against the 18 protesters are still pending in Lewiston Town Court. Mahoney expressed surprise that the charges have not been dropped.

Parks officials "want to show that they did the right thing," Mahoney said. Parks officials were in meetings this morning and could not be reached to comment.

"No state can deprive a person of his constitutional rights under due process of law," Mahoney said.

"This was a demonstration by artists," he said.

The protesters, according to court papers, included a man who brought fake blood and a chain saw to Artpark. Mahoney compared the protests and the arrests to anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

"And now it happens in this gushing of censorship," he said.

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