The “See You at the Library” reading event featuring Kirk Cameron and Riley Gaines at the Madison Public Library has been canceled by library officials.
The library issued a statement Thursday saying the event had to be shut down due to capacity issues.
“Due to the event’s anticipated attendance increasing beyond the Library’s capacity, the Library will be unable to host the event,” the statement read. “Initially, the organizers of the event reported 20 attendees to library officials. On Tuesday the Library learned that event organizers are now expecting over 300 people, a number that far exceeds any meeting room capacity within the Huntsville-Madison County Library System.”
The library said they tried to work with city department heads to make the event “logistically possible” and were told Moms for Liberty, the organization hosting the event, should seek an alternative venue.
“The City of Madison applies permitting regulations for outside events equally to all groups and organizations,” the city said in a statement. “While the initially planned event was suited for the Madison Library’s capacity, the scope of attendees quickly grew. The Moms for Liberty group failed to apply for an event permit in advance, and it was determined that City resources cannot support an event of this size on such short notice. Alternative accommodations have been recommended to the organization to ensure a safe and well-attended event.”
Emily Jones, the chair of the Madison County chapter of Moms for Liberty, told 1819 News, “The city has not talked to me about anything other than to say ‘move to private property’ because of security. I told the Chief we weren't moving and he said that we couldn't block the street at the library. That's the only communication the city ever provided to me.”
First Liberty Institute, the law firm representing Cameron and his publisher Brave Books, said the cancellation is a clear “unconstitutional religious discrimination.”
“Until yesterday, you [the library] supported the event in Huntsville, AL at every step, including offering a large room at the Madison Public Library branch to accommodate the 250 local residents who plan to attend,” the Institute said in a letter to the library. “However, upon learning that Mr. Cameron and his friend and Brave Books author, Riley Gaines, will be attending in person, you abruptly cancelled the event citing ‘security concerns’ from a potential protest of Mr. Cameron and claiming the event exceeds the library’s capacity.”
The event has drawn significant backlash from far-left protesters who planned to travel to Madison to hold a gathering of their own at the same time as Moms for Liberty.
TikTok influencer Lindsay Booker, better known as Bhambluedot, has been organizing the protest and encouraging her followers to show up to protest Cameron’s new book “As You Grow” and to hand out books such as “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.”
She also gave recommendations for protest sign slogans like “Moms against Moms for Liberty,” “Hey Lunatics! Stop terrorizing our educators,” and “Moms for Liberty Shut the F*** Up.”
“The Supreme Court has made quite plain that government officials cannot impose anything like a modified heckler’s veto, in which religious activity can be proscribed based on perceptions or discomfort,” the Institute’s letter continued. “As it stands, however, you have denied our clients access to your facility out of an ill-defined fear that the content of their speech will generate security concerns. Moreover, appeals to concerns over capacity are similarly unavailing. It strains credulity to cancel an event that may be over capacity when library staff could simply operate on a first-come, first-serve basis. Claiming capacity concerns to cancel an event otherwise protected by the First Amendment is precisely the 'whim of the administrator' of which the Supreme Court warned. In short, whether over concerns of security or capacity, you have censored our client.”
The law firm said the library has until noon Friday to reverse its decision and allow the event to proceed as planned.
"We're sitting tight until Brave Books gets a formal response back from the library," Jones said.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.