Judge rejects Falun Gong's bid to stop S.F. from funding parade

Court Still Considering Holding Hearing in Case

San Jose Mercury News/February 1, 2006

A San Francisco Superior Court judge refused today to issue a temporary restraining order requested by the Falun Gong spiritual group to bar city funding of the Chinese New Year's Parade on Feb. 11.

But Judge Ronald Quidachay reportedly told lawyers in the case through a law clerk that he is considering holding a hearing on whether to grant a preliminary injunction.

The lawyers will be informed this afternoon whether and when an injunction hearing will be held, the law clerk said.

Joseph Breall, a lawyer for the Western Falun Dafa Association, commonly known as Falun Gong, said he was not disappointed by the ruling today.

"What we really need is a final hearing on the case," Breall said.

The group claims in a lawsuit filed today that the city should be required to take back a $77,000 parade organization grant given to the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce because the chamber discriminated when it denied Falun Gong a place in the parade.

The Falun Gong association also sued the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in a second part of the lawsuit that accuses the chamber of violating state civil rights law by allegedly discriminating.

Breall said the group will seek a trial on that part of the lawsuit at a later date.

The lawsuit also seeks reimbursement to the city from the chamber for free police and fire services provided for the parade.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce has said it excluded Falun Gong from the parade because it is a political group.

Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said the city contends that the parade sponsor's decision on what groups to include in the parade is protected by the right of free speech.

Dorsey said the city also maintains that Falun Gong has no standing to challenge the grant agreement between the city and the chamber and that Falun Gong should take any discrimination complaints it has to the city Human Rights Commission before going to court.

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