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A group that was refused permission to hold a rally last spring on the plaza area in front of the main branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library has filed a lawsuit against the library in federal district court.

The Ad Hoc Committee to Preserve Funding for Human Services is asking for an injunction to keep the library from banning groups that want to assemble peaceably and exercise free speech on the plaza area.

The committee, opposed to Gov. Pataki's veto of Legislature-approved funding for human services, wanted to hold an informational picket when the State Assembly was holding hearings on the vetoes in the main branch of the library.

Library officials turned down the committee, contending that the library does not allow anyone to use the area. They added that if they allowed the committee to picket there, then they would have to allow others to use it.

Library spokesman Michael Mahaney said that the library did make some public meeting space available to the group as an alternative, but the offer was rejected.

Characterizing the plaza as "the only sensible place to conduct the rally," the committee's attorney, James M. Morrissey, added, "The library sought to shunt the rally off to the margins. By refusing permission, the library has helped stifle the vigorous debate of this
important public issue."

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