Two festival organizers are suing Ohio health experts for enforcing a statewide ban on concerts amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers of Ohio’s Bellwether Music Festival and Country Fest filed the federal lawsuit against Dr. Amy Acton and two county health departments on Thursday in the Southern District of Ohio. According to WCPO Cincinnati, the suit claims that Acton violates the organizers’ First Amendment rights by not allowing the music festivals to go on as planned.
In the suit, organizers are arguing that the ongoing protests against policy brutality in the state aren’t adhering to social distancing protocols, so festivals should be able to move forward as planned.
“There is no difference between a large crowd gathering in the downtown of a large Ohio city to hear speech from speakers versus a large crowd gathering at Renaissance Park or Clay’s Park Resort (or at other venues) to hear speech in the form of music and other entertainment,” the suit reads.
At this point, neither festival has been cancelled, but due to the actions by Dr. Acton, Bellwether organizers are not sure if the festival can still continue this year. The suit is asking to invalidate Acton’s order from May 29 – which restricted parades, fairs, festivals, and carnivals. They are also asking that Acton, as well as the Warren County Health District and Stark County Combined General Health District, will not threaten vendors following the legal action.
Along with festival organizers, concertgoer Mark Miller is suing the departments, noting that his First Amendment rights are being impeded on. Miller and organizers are also claiming that Acton’s “Stay at Home” orders are inaccurate, as the coronavirus pandemic throughout the state is not as bad as it seems.