Burlington and ACLU reach agreement on lawsuit over public-parks ban

Local News
Burlington's City Hall Park renovation will also address soil contamination

The City of Burlington has settled a 2015 lawsuit by agreeing to revamp a policy that prohibited people from visiting City Hall Park if they committed offenses there.

Under the terms of a settlement agreement with the ACLU, the city will draft an ordinance governing no-trespass orders and pay the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Jason Ploof, $13,500. 

“This settlement recognizes that public parks belong to everyone,” said ACLU of Vermont Staff Attorney Jay Diaz, “and sends a clear message that Burlington and other localities cannot use blanket no-trespass ordinances to stifle people’s freedom of movement and expression without due process of law.”

Ploof was issued a no-trespass order that prohibited him from entering the park for 90 days after allegedly possessing an open container of alcohol on two occasions.

The ACLU said Ploof was denied a chance to challenge the order and was eventually arrested for violating the 90-day ban.

The city’s attempt to have the case dismissed failed in March. The settlement was reached in June.

“As a born and raised Burlingtonian, I grew up using the City’s park as a central gathering place to engage with my community,” Ploof said in a statement. “Being banned for an entire summer meant the loss of a core part of my identity, and made me feel like an outcast in my hometown.”

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