Political Speech and Youth Curfews on the Detroit RiverWalk

August 25, 2015

The public walkway and parkland along the Detroit River in Detroit is managed by a private non-profit called the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. Until recently, the Conservancy was treating the land as private property. In September 2013 the ACLU of Michigan wrote a letter explaining that because the Conversancy is performing a public function in running a public park, it is bound by the First Amendment. In response, the Conservancy allowed a peace and justice group called Women in Black to march later that month and claimed that would amend its policies.

However, in 2015, the Conservancy denied several individuals and small groups the right to petition, walk with signs or gather on public grounds without a permit. Additionally, it initiated a year-round 6 p.m. curfew for all minors unaccompanied by parents or guardians.

The ACLU wrote another demand letter, and, in response, the Conservancy has lifted its youth curfew and adopted better free speech policies.


(ACLU Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg; Cooperating Attorney Syeda Davidson.)

To view the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket, click here.