In 2017 the City of Flint invited members of the public to a town hall at House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church to discuss the city’s response to the continuing water crisis. Upon arrival, the public encountered several police officers and bodyguards who demanded that no hats be worn in the sanctuary as required by church rules and policy. Those who objected were denied entry into the public meeting, and some were arrested for complaining about the public meeting being held in a religious institution where religious rules were enforced by the police. In 2018 the ACLU of Michigan filed suit against the city and its police for violations of the arrestees’ constitutional rights.
In March 2020 the case settled after the city agreed not to impose church rules at town hall-style meetings, require its police officers to undergo First Amendment and de-escalation training, clear the plaintiffs’ arrest records, and pay damages and attorneys’ fees.
(Palladeno v. City of Flint; ACLU Attorneys Bonsitu Kitaba-Gaviglio and Michael J. Steinberg; Cooperating Attorneys Greg Gibbs, Muna Jondy, Glenn Simmington, Ann Gibbs, and Alec Gibbs.)