MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) — After the anticipated attendance for an event at the Madison Public Library reportedly increased from 20 to 300, the library has canceled the event citing capacity concerns. Attorneys for event organizers, however, claim the library is censoring the event.
Moms for Liberty is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to organize, educate and empower parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government,” according to their website.
A spokesperson for the Madison Public Library said Moms for Liberty’s Madison County Chapter planned to host a Brave Books ‘See You at the Library’ event in one of the meeting rooms, and actor Kirk Cameron was planning to attend the event in person.
According to the Brave Books website, Cameron had planned to mark his first national ‘See You at the Library Day’ at the Madison Public Library on August 5 with a day of “reading, singing, and praying.”
The library said on Thursday that the anticipated attendance has increased past the library’s capacity, meaning they’ll be unable to host the event.
“Initially, the organizers of the event reported 20 attendees to library officials. On Tuesday, the Library learned that event organizers are now expecting over 300 people, a number that far exceeds any meeting room capacity within the Huntsville-Madison County Library System,” the library said in a statement on Thursday.
Madison Public Library said that it explored options to make the event happen, consulting the Madison City Police Department, the Madison City Fire Marshal and City officials. It said that after discussing logistics with the library and event organizer, the Madison City Police Department and the Madison City Fire Marshal recommended the event be held at an alternate location.
The City of Madison issued the following statement concerning the cancellation of the event:
“The City of Madison applies permitting regulations for outside events equally to all groups and
organizations. While the initially planned event was suited for the Madison Library’s capacity, the
scope of attendees quickly grew. The Moms for Liberty group failed to apply for an event permit in advance, and it was determined that City resources cannot support an event of this size on such short notice. Alternative accommodations have been recommended to the organization to ensure a safe and well-attended event.”
City of Madison
Madison Public Library finished off its statement by saying the library is available to the public and welcomes all individuals and groups to use its facilities, and stating that they informed Moms for Liberty and Brave Books on Wednesday that the venue is no longer available.
First Liberty Institute is the law firm that represents Brave Books and Kirk Cameron. Jeremy Dys, senior counsel at First Liberty, sent a letter to library officials on Thursday following the cancelation, alleging the library is unlawfully and unconstitutionally censoring his client.
“Until yesterday, you supported the event in Huntsville, AL at every step, including offering a large room at the Madison Public Library branch to accommodate the 250 local residents who plan to attend. However, upon learning that Mr. Cameron and his friend and Brave Books author, Riley Gaines will be attending in person, you abruptly canceled the event citing “security
concerns” from a potential protest of Mr. Cameron and claiming the event exceeds the
library’s capacity,” Dys said in the letter.
The law firm said in the letter if the library doesn’t respond by noon on Friday, confirming organizers may utilize the Madison Public Library to host ‘See You at the Library’ on Saturday, they are prepared to take the matter to court. Dys wrote that the cancellation of the event violates his client’s civil rights and discriminates against his client’s religious viewpoint and content.
“In short, whether over concerns of security or capacity, you have censored our
client,” Dys said. “It may be just one event—just a story time at the local library by a Christian
children’s book author—that you have canceled. Large or small, such unbridled
censorship impacts the freedom of speech upon which we all depend in this free society.”
Attorney General Steve Marshall was also sent a copy of the letter written by Dys.