Gun-Rights Meeting Is On After All—But Not at Tuley Park | Bleader

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gun-Rights Meeting Is On After All—But Not at Tuley Park

Posted By on 06.29.10 at 07:29 PM

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A week after Park District officials thwarted its plans to hold a town hall meeting at a south side field house, the gun-rights group Illinois Carry has decided to move the Wednesday night event to Chicago State University.

It should be an interesting scene: while the group and its supporters will be presenting their arguments for conceal-and-carry laws, gun-control activists are planning to assemble there to "stand up to the NRA," according to a Facebook post by Father Michael Pfleger, who recently organized an anti-violence march with Mayor Richard M. Daley and is now planning to take buses of parishioners to Chicago State. The town hall meeting is not being organized by the NRA.

Meanwhile, a Park District spokeswoman is insisting that the group was never blocked from holding its meeting at Tuley Park, though she isn't clear about why park employees were telling visitors that the event had been canceled.

"Despite published reports, the Chicago Park District has not denied Mr. Gerald Vernon the opportunity to host his town-hall event at Tuley Park," Jessica Maxey-Faulkner wrote me in an e-mail Tuesday afternoon. I'd called her about the issue last week.

Nearly three weeks ago Vernon, an Illinois Carry activist, reserved a room in the Tuley Park field house—or so he thought. He says he told park officials that he expected the event to draw 150 to 200 people and they raised no objections. In fact, they accepted his $100 reservation fee. But last week Vernon got a call from the park informing him that approval for the event had been "rescinded."

Maxey-Faulkner wrote that park officials decided the room he'd reserved was too small for his event. "Mr. Vernon originally requested a room in Tuley Park, which can accommodate approximately 150 people. The event, which has been advertised on a popular radio station, through blast e-mail, and mass flier distribution, will likely attract hundreds more. Mr. Vernon has been invited to submit a permit to host his event on the grounds of Tuley Park, which would better accommodate the potential crowd, and help ensure the safety and well-being of the public."

The problem for Vernon and the other members of his group was that they'd promoted the date of June 30. This new special-use permit—if the Park District decided to issue it—wouldn't be ready until at least a week later.

After Vernon was informed that he needed the new permit for the meeting, Tuley Park's supervisor dumped the event fliers and announced that it had been scrubbed altogether.

"Clearly all the staff member was certain of was that the event was too large to be held indoors at Tuley Park," Maxey-Faulker told me.

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