The ACLU of Oregon will celebrate the reopening of Terry Schrunk Plaza and Bill of Rights Day on Thursday, December 15th at noon in the amphitheater at Shrunk Plaza with readings of the Bill of Rights.
Federally owned Terry Schrunk Plaza had been closed since November 13, when Portland police evicted Occupy Portland demonstrators from nearby Chapman and Lownsdale parks. The City has stated that Chapman and Lownsdale need to remain closed to allow time for repairs, but Terry Schrunk Plaza had not been damaged yet remained closed.
The plaza’s amphitheater, which was designed to accommodate public gatherings and foster public discourse, had been the site of the General Assembly meetings for Occupy Portland. Last week, the ACLU of Oregon filed for a permit to hold a reading of the Bill of Rights at the Plaza, in part to encourage the federal General Services Administration to remove the fences and reopen what has been a traditional public forum. The ACLU’s permit was granted on Monday and the fences came down the same day.
The first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution, which became known as the Bill of Rights, were ratified on December 15, 1791. This week’s celebration will mark their 220th anniversary.
“We can think of no better occasion than the birthday of the Bill of Rights to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza’s amphitheater and celebrate the First Amendment’s guarantees of free expression, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances,” said Jann Carson, Associate Director of the ACLU of Oregon.
Collectively, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights trumpet our aspirations for the kind of society that we want to be. For much of our history, our nation failed to fulfill the promise of liberty for all people living in the U.S. We have learned that the Bill of Rights is not self-fulfilling and therefore the American Civil Liberties Union was founded to work to ensure the promise of the Bill of Rights is made real.
ACLU organizers say the public is invited to join in reciting the Bill of Rights over the lunch hour at Terry Schrunk Plaza on Thursday, December 15 from noon to 1 p.m.