- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

ST. MARTINVILLE, La. (AP) - A club that runs an annual Mardi Gras parade in St. Martinville alleges in a federal lawsuit that its rights are being violated after the city required it to have more security and barricades to make the parade safer.

The Newcomers Club filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court in Lafayette against the City of St. Martinville, the City Council, the mayor and the St. Martin Parish sheriff, according to KATC-TV (https://bit.ly/1OF1QiI ).

The suit contends its Mardi Gras parade is a 54-year-old tradition and the club has a right to assemble and celebrate its “heritage and community” and that “once this custom and tradition is broken, it will be forever marred and tainted.”

“We will not allow the city and the sheriff to shut down this historic parade,” said Shone Pierre, a lawyer for the Club. “We have a constitutional right to assemble to celebrate our heritage and our community. These government officials will not trample that right by placing onerous and unnecessary requirements or by failing to perform their duties.”

Mayor Thomas Nelson said he was unable to comment on pending litigation.

The city told the club to hire additional security and purchase barricades to make the event safer or not be allowed to parade.

The club counters that those requirements weren’t placed for other parades, such as a Christmas parade or the Pepper Festival parade.

The suit is seeking a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order.

The club also said its members had already have put a great deal of time and effort into preparing for the parade and its cancellation would “represent a significant loss.”

The suit seeks to get the sheriff’s office to provide security for the parade.

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Information from: KATC-TV, https://katc.com

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