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Injunction sought to lift library plaza ban

– A Fort Wayne man wants a federal judge to force the Allen County Public Library to let him “educate” the public on the federal health care law before the upcoming election.

In the motion for a preliminary injunction filed Tuesday, David J. Kolhoff’s attorneys argue he is likely to win his case on First Amendment grounds and faces irreparable harm if he cannot conduct his activities before the Nov. 6 general election.

He wants the judge to force the library to let him use either the plaza or the Great Hall for his activities before the election.

Last week, the ACLU of Indiana filed the original lawsuit on behalf of Kolhoff against the library, saying his constitutional rights to free speech were violated when the library refused to let him set up a display on the plaza.

Kolhoff, a semi-retired attorney, believes the public is not educated enough about the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. So he wanted to provide the public with information at his display, which includes a bicycle, a small cart with banners and a laptop computer.

“(Kolhoff) has engaged in his expressive activity in public parks located in Fort Wayne,” wrote Kolhoff’s ACLU attorney, Gavin Rose, in both the complaint and the injunction. “His activity on these occasions has met with varying levels of success, for, in his estimation, many persons located in the parks were not curious about the Act and did not desire to be educated.”

Kolhoff argues that the patrons of the public library are more likely to be curious about the federal health care act and therefore more likely to be “willing to be educated,” according to court documents. In lieu of the plaza, Kolhoff would be willing to present his educational materials inside the library’s Great Hall, which, he argues in court documents, would only be available to conduct a voter registration drive.

The library’s policies ban demonstrations and exhibits on the plaza. According to court documents, library officials have said Kolhoff could conduct his activities in one of the library’s meeting rooms for a program on the matter or produce a television program and have it air on the library’s public access television channel.

Allen County Public Library Director Jeffrey Krull said at the time the lawsuit was filed that no one has been allowed to use the plaza in the way Kolhoff has requested. The library is to be an inviting space. Officials do not want patrons approached as they enter or leave the building.

“We have not regarded the plaza as a place for just anybody to set up shop and demonstrate,” Krull said.

No hearing on Kolhoff’s motion has yet been scheduled.