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DALLAS An appellate court ruled Tuesday that the city of Dallas must stop an enforcement effort against JFK conspiracy vendors selling materials at Dealey Plaza ahead of the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination.

The Dallas County Criminal Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Robert Groden, a longtime conspiracy theorist and vendor who was arrested in 2010 for selling merchandise in Dealey Plaza. The appellate court upheld a lower court's decision to toss the city's case out.

"It's a matter of free speech, it's a First Amendment issue," Groden said. "The city wanted us out of here; it didn't want anyone giving an alternative point of view about the Kennedy assassination."

Workers are already laying new sod at Dealey Plaza in an effort to upgrade the area before Nov. 22, the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's death. In 2010, police arrested Groden for selling merchandise at a park, claiming that vendors harassed visitors.

But the judge pointed out that the city doesn't list Dealey Plaza as a park, and there wasn't a way to get a sales permit. The city told News 8 it won't appeal further.

So the vendors remain and some visitors like Peter Crowell from Punta Gorda, Fla., support them.

"Well, first of all, it's the United States of America. You know, I mean, these are all protected rights that we all have," he said.

Since Groden's arrest, the City Council revised the law to allow the sale of First Amendment-protected items.

On the anniversary, The 50th Committee expects 5,000 tickets to be available for the event. About two thirds of those will be handed out to the public at random. But Groden is already skeptical if conspiracy buffs will be included.

"Who determines who gets the tickets?," Groden wondered.

The Dealey Plaza renovation should be finished by the end of March, according to the contractor, Dallas-based Phoenix Restoration and Construction.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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