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ISKCON banned from soliciting at LA airport

July 08, 2010 14:34 IST

Hare Krishna movement has been stopped from seeking donations at the Los Angeles International Airport by a US court.

The court allowed the Los Angeles Police to enforce a 13-year-old municipal ordinance, which would prevent members of the movement from seeking donations at the airport.

"This is a huge step forward in ensuring the comfort and safety of the travelling public at LAX," said Gina Marie Lindsay, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, which operates the Los Angeles International Airport.

"From now on, the travelling public will not have to worry about solicitors asking for money," Lindsay said after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a preliminary injunction imposed in 1997, which stopped city police from enforcing solicitation ban against groups seeking donations, in particular the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness of California.

Alleging that the ordinance violated state constitutional guarantees of free speech, the ISKCON had sued in federal court in May 1997. In its ruling in March this year, the California Supreme Court said that solicitations of money in the terminals, parking areas and adjacent sidewalks are not protected speech under the state Constitution.

Los Angeles Airport Chief of Police George R Centeno said the lifting of the court injunction means airport police law enforcement can enforce our City's laws.

"This ruling allows us to exercise a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to solicitors asking for immediate donations at LAX," he said.

Organisations still can distribute literature and speak to willing travellers. They can even seek financial support, as long as they not request the immediate exchange of funds. Violators face a penalty of up to six months in jail or a fine of $1,000, if convicted.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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