GRAMERCY, La. (WGNO) — A grassroots organization that fights for environmental justice has won a first amendment lawsuit against the Town of Gramercy following claims that the city violated its first amendment rights.

On Friday (Nov. 18), it was announced Tulane University’s Law Clinic on behalf of RISE St. James a settlement in a case that paves the way for community activists to assemble, march, and protest in city limits.

As part of the lawsuit, the town must ease its requirement that groups must post a $10,000 bond for a permit to demonstrate — a financial obstacle for free speech. The lawsuit emerged as RISE St. James protested a ballot initiative that would have granted tax incentives to industrial plants and, ironically, unfairly charge protestors hoping to demonstrate against the ballot measure.

RISE St. James founder Sharon Lavigne tells WGNO that the results of the lawsuit is a win for free speech and the ability to speak up when others are breaking the law.

“I feel like we can do anything, especially when something is not right and you want to make it right, you go to the legal aspects of it and you win with the law,” Lavigne explained. “Anybody can’t just come along and break the law, so we’re fighting for our rights, we’re fighting to have freedom of speech, we’re fighting for what’s right.”

You may recall that RISE St. James was on the front lines to prevent the construction of a Formosa Plastics plant in St. James Parish. That plant is currently on hold.

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