ISKCON Barred from Seeking Donations at LA Airport

By Arun Kumar

Washington, Jul 9 (IANS) A US court has barred the Hare Krishna movement from seeking donations at the Los Angeles International Airport.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles allowed the Los Angeles Police to enforce a 13-year-old municipal ordinance to prevent members of the movement from seeking donations at the airport by lifting a preliminary injunction imposed in 1997.

"This is a huge step forward in ensuring the comfort and safety of the travelling public," 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 solicitations for money," she said. 

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) of California had filed a case in a federal court in May 1997 alleging that the municipal ordinance violated state constitutional guarantees of free speech. 

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 the city laws.

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


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