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ACLU, Ohio city reach agreement while court weighs sidewalk message ban; permit allows writing

The American Civil Liberties Union and a northwest Ohio city have reached a temporary deal over the city's ban on sidewalk messages.

At issue is an ordinance in the city of Defiance that prohibits disfiguring sidewalks by painting words, names or ads.

The ACLU's Ohio chapter is suing the city. The organization argues in a federal lawsuit that the law violates free speech rights and also shouldn't apply to chalk messages. The group wants a judge to stop enforcement of the ordinance.

The issue arose last year when members of an Occupy group were threatened with arrest for writing chalk messages the night before a parade.

Under an agreement filed Thursday, the city has granted the group a permit to write messages. It will stay in effect while the court weighs the case.