A blind woman, banned last summer from entering a Rhode Island public park and library for proselytizing, may resume sharing her faith in the park following the resolution of her discrimination complaint against local officials.
First Liberty Institute, a non-profit law firm focused on defending religious freedom, announced Thursday that the Westerly, Rhode Island Memorial and Library Association has agreed to rescind its two-year ban of Gail Blair from the park and library located across the street from her home.
“We commend the Rhode Island’s Memorial and Library Association for resolving the case and recognizing our client’s religious liberty,” Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications at First Liberty, stated in their press release. “Our client is thrilled that she can once again enter the park across the street from her home and talk with other visitors.”
In June of this year, First Liberty Institute and Blair’s attorney, William Wray, Jr., with Adler Pollock & Sheehan P.C., filed discrimination charges with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights against the Memorial and Library Association. The complaint charged that park and library officials violated Rhode Island’s laws for places of public accommodation and discriminated against Blair based on religion and disability whey they banned her for distributing pocket-sized copies of the Gospel of John to park goers.
In a video testimonial posted on First Liberty Institute’s website, Blair says she was informed of her banishment from Wilcox Park and neighboring Westerly Library by the park’s director as she sat on a park bench talking with another gentleman.
A few weeks later, Blair returned to Wilcox Park to help her church host a pre-approved Vacation Bible School event in July 2019. Shortly after, she received a phone call from the Westerly Police Department threatening to arrest her for trespassing if she entered the park again.
“I am thankful to First Liberty Institute and all my attorneys for fighting on my behalf and look forward to once again spending time in the park and sharing my faith in Jesus with those who are interested in having the conversation,” Blair stated in the press release.
In her video testimonial, Blair said the best day of her life was when she became a Christian on Jan. 7, 1984 while attending a Bible study of the Gospel of John. Since losing her sight because of a genetic disorder, the 60-something former nurse says she is confident that God has her exactly where she needs to be.
“I think about daily, the lost souls,” Blair says in the video. “I think the Lord has positioned me right across from the park. It is a divine assignment that I absolutely need to fulfill. It’s just a must.”
Photo: First Liberty Institute