Unless I'm missing something, I think the Ordinance 2018-16 is fair and wise, preventing groups opposing each other from having physical contact in the historic St. Augustine Slave Market park.
Great work by Assistant City Attorney John Cary, who's Commission-delegated mission is to renew the City Code and update our ordinances in the Ancient City.
Last year, anti-monument demonstrators stomped their way through a happy crowd to "disrupt" our civic life at the commencement of Nights of Lights, an annual event each November.
"Disrupt" is the stated intent of racist minister Rev. Ronald Rawls, Jr, Gainesville minister, whose. unhinged attack on local monuments to Confederate war veterans has diverted attention from developers destruction of our history and nature. Rev. Rawls is still demanding removal of memorials to dead Confederate veterans, on city and state property. More on his first hate rally here.
City Commissioners voted 5-0 last year to reject his demand about the 1879 monument. Earlier this year, the University of Florida's St. Augustine board rejected his demand to remove the Loring monument west of Government House.
Rawls invited Doug Russo, an extremist white racist preacher to his church to speak in favor of slavery to inflame his troops -- Ron Rawls and Doug Russo are like two peas in a pod, black and white racists who feed off each other to whip people up into hatred. Be not afraid, for as Burke Marshall said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall catch hell from both sides."
Rev. Rawls told HARB that his "business" is St. Paul A.M.E. Church. Rawls demolished historic 1926 Echo House in Lincolnville after getting control of it from the City and promising to preserve it. He breached his fiduciary duty to City residents. He told his flock that God told him to tear down Echo House for parking. He threatened HARB that if he did not get a demolition permit, he would move his church, his "business," out of town.
So when Rawls claims a constitutional right to "disrupt" and to march right through throngs of residents and visitors on the lighting up of Nights of Light. Pushing, shoving and stepping on peoples' toes at a concert and light-up ceremony is not acceptable.
Police need a bright line to protect public safety and free speech at the same time.
Ordinance 2018-16 is a simple, elegant exercise of our home rule right to protect public safety and regulate the "time, place and manner" of free speech
Ordinance 2018-16 is drafted to protect public safety and the First Amendment. It's (unfortunately unnumbered) "whereas" clauses contain citations to federal court decisions. It's well-drafted.
Ordinance 2018-16 also adopts simple rules for demonstrations, to wit, demonstrators and counter demonstrators will remain on the periphery of the Plaza and will be separated to prevent violence.
Courts have upheld restrictions on "time, place and manner" of First Amendment rights.
Ordinance 2018-16 looks like a constitutional law to me.
No repetition of racist violence in Charlottesville is desired or required here.
On August 28, 2017, St. Augustine Police did an admirable job. Ironically it was the 452nd anniversary of our Nation's Oldest (and oddest) City being named by Pedro Menendez de Aviles after an African Bishop, Saint Augustine.
Angst-ridden August 28, 2017 was a date without violence. Police did their jobs, while Confederate monument hysteria reigned at City Commission on , with some 82 speakers for and against removing the 1879 Confederate monument. (Vice Mayor Todd Neville told a Tea Party last year that there were some 150 law enforcement officers within three blocks of City Hall that night, out of sight nearby, ready to react. We will not be "Charlottesvilled' by white or black racists.
Footnote: Ordinance 2018-16 would also ban horses and livestock from the Plaza, which solves a problem that does not exist. Did someone fear that Rawls or the KKK would abandon their large internal combustion vehicles and ride into town on geldings? (Stranger things have happened: this is St. Augustine).
For 453 years, St. Augustine has survived fires, hurricanes, religious-colonial wars, chattel slavery, indentured servitude, genocide of indigenous people, pirates, Confederates, Jim Crow segregation, corruption and corporate greed. We're going to survive Rev. Rawls, a/k/a the "Gainesville Grifter."
Two readings are required for Ordinance 2018-16. Nights of Lights begins November 17, 2018.
Commission meets Monday, October 22, 2018 at 5 PM, 75 King Street, Alcazar Room, First Floor.
.Here's the full text of the proposed Plaza ordinance for discussion and comments:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA, REPEALING AND REPLACING CHAPTER 22, SECTION 22-4 OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE; PROVIDING FOR FINDINGS AND INTENT; PROVIDING FOR DEFINITIONS; PROVIDING FOR REQUIREMENTS AND PROHIBITED CONDUCT FOR EVENTS, PROTESTS AND COUNTER-PROTESTS IN THE PLAZA DE LA CONSTITUCION; PROVIDING FOR PENALTIES; AMENDING SECTION 22-5 OF THE CODE OF THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE; PROHIBITING MOTOR VEHICLES, HORSES AND OTHER LIVESTOCK, WITHIN THE PLAZA DE LA CONSTITUCION; PROVIDING FOR INCLUSION IN THE CODE OF THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE; PROVIDING FOR REPEAL OF CONFLICTING ORDINANCES; PROVIDING FOR SEVERANCE OF INVALID PROVISIONS; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
WHEREAS, § 166.041, Florida Statutes, provides for procedures for the adoption of ordinances and resolutions by municipalities; and
WHEREAS, St. Johns County receives over 6 million visitors per year, millions of which come to downtown St. Augustine; and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine has many events in the Plaza de la Constitucion that draw hundreds or thousands of residents and visitors into a small, public plaza, including the Fourth of July, Light Up! Night, and Concerts in the Plaza; and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine is a small city of approximately 14,000 residents with only 53 sworn police officers; and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine recognizes that protests, events, outdoor public assemblies, or other gatherings are activities that are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine has a significant interest in providing a safe and pleasant environment and in eliminating nuisance activity, Smith v. City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 177 F. 3d 954, 956 (11th Cir. 1999); and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine may issue permits for parades and other assemblies, but does not control the message of the speaker, Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995); and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine has experienced a number of confrontations between different protest groups that have the potential to escalate to physical assaults, melees, or riots; and,
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine has a significant interest in ensuring the public safety and order and in promoting the free flow of pedestrian traffic in city parks, streets, sidewalks, and other public fora. Ayres v. City of Chicago, 125 F. 3d 1010, 1015 (7th Cir. 1997); and
WHEREAS, the city may require a permit for those wishing to hold a march, parade, or other public gatherings, in order to regulate competing uses of public forums.Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 58 (1941); and
ORD 2018-16 (CA) Page 2 of 7
WHEREAS, the City Commission finds that regulations of protests, events, outdoor public assemblies, or other gatherings in the Plaza de la Constitucion still provides ample alternative avenues of communication and are narrowly drawn to addressthe City’s substantial interests; and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine has a significant interest in promoting the safety and convenience of its citizens on public streets and fora. Madsen v. Women’sHealth Center, 512 U.S. 753, 768 (1994); and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine has a significant interest in the safety and convenience of citizens using public fora such as parks, streets, and sidewalks. Heffronv. International Soc’y for Krishna Consciousness, 452 U.S. 640, 650 (1981); and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine has a significant interest in maintaining the public order. Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, 519 U.S. 357, 358 (1997); and
WHEREAS, the City of St. Augustine, in order to protect the free speech rights of multiple individuals or groups, may protect and/or separate speakers from potentially hostile crowds in order to maintain the public order. Bible Believers v. Wayne County, 805 F. 3d 228, 254 (6th Cir. 2015); and
ORD 2018-16 (CA) Page 3 of 7
WHEREAS, the size of the Plaza de la Constitucion ensures that both visual and audible speech can be seen and heard from the interior of the plaza to the sidewalks surrounding the plaza; and
WHEREAS, both visual and audible speech originating from the sidewalks surrounding the plaza can be seen and heard from most areas within the Plaza de la Constitucion; and
WHEREAS, the size of the Plaza de la Constitucion ensures that there are ample opportunities to speak both within the Plaza itself, and on the sidewalks surrounding the plaza; and
WHEREAS, the City Commission for the City of St. Augustine finds that it is in the best interest of public health, safety, and general welfare that the following amendments be adopted consistent with the requirements of Section 166.021(4), Florida Statutes.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY COMMISSION FOR THE CITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA, AS FOLLOWS:
Section 1. Repeal and Replacement of Chapter 22, Article I, Section 22-4. Chapter 22, Article I, Section 22-4 is hereby repealed and replaced as follows:
ORD 2018-16 (CA) Page 4 of 7
- (1) Plaza means the area containing grass and landscaping, monuments, a gazebo, a covered market, cannons and other historical objects, and internal walkways of the Plaza de la Constitucion as represented on District No. 5 Official Map of the City of St. Augustine, adopted June 12, 1923, by Ordinance No. 164.
- (2) Perimetersidewalkmeansthesidewalkimmediatelyadjacent to, and encircling, the Plaza.
- (3) Eventmeansalawfulgatheringoffiftyormorepersonsinthe Plaza for the purpose of attending a specific scheduled and permitted program taking place in and around the Plaza.
- (4) Protest means a lawful gathering of persons in the Plaza or Perimeter sidewalk expressing their objection to, or support for, a person, place, or thing.
- (5) Counter-protest means a lawful gathering of persons in the Plaza or Perimeter sidewalk objecting to the Protest.
(c) Penalties. Offenses under this section shall be punishable as provided in section 1-8 of this Code.
(d) This section is intended to operate in harmony with all provisions of this Code relating to street artists, as defined in section 22-10, including other sections which are cross-referenced thereto, and is in no way intended to conflict, supersede, or otherwise invalidate any such ordinances or resolutions relating to the same.
Section 2. Amendment to Chapter 22, Article I, Section 22-5. Chapter 22, Article I, Section 22-5 is hereby amended as follows:
ORD 2018-16 (CA) Page 5 of 7
(a) Motor vehicles, horses and livestock not permitted. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate any motor vehicle, except for authorized government personnel in connection with their official duties, or to allow a horse or other livestock, on any sidewalk or lawn area of the Plaza de la Constitucion or the city commons.
(b) Penalties. Any person found guilty of violating the provisions of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500.00).
Section 3. Inclusion in Code. The City Commission intends that the provisions of this Ordinance shall become and shall be made part of the Code of the City of St. Augustine, that the sections of this Ordinance may be re-numbered or re-lettered and that the word ordinance may be changed to section, article or other such appropriate word or phrase in order to accomplish such intentions.
Section 4. Conflict with Other Ordinances. All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.
Section 5. Severance of Invalid Provisions. In the event that any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, word, term or provision of this Ordinance shall be held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be partially or wholly invalid, unconstitutional or unenforceable or involved for any reason whatsoever, any such invalidity, unconstitutionality, illegality, or unenforceability shall not affect any of the other or remaining terms, provisions, clauses, sentences, or sections of this Ordinance, and this Ordinance shall be read and/or applied as if the invalid, unconstitutional, illegal, or unenforceable section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase, word, term or provision did not exist.
ORD 2018-16 (CA) Page 6 of 7
PASSED by the City Commission of the City of St. Augustine, Florida, this _______ day of ___________________, 2018.
________________________ Darlene Galambos, City Clerk
Out of bounds?
Protestors and counter-protestors sound off during the city of St. Augustine’s Light Up! Night event in 2017. The City Commission will consider an ordinance on Monday aimed at preventing violence by regulating protests in the Plaza de la Constitucion. [FILE/THE RECORD]
By Sheldon Gardner
Posted at 2:01 AM
St. Augustine Record
During the kickoff event to St. Augustine’s Nights of Lights season in 2017, Confederate monument protesters traded shouts with counter-protesters in the city’s core.
No reports of violence came from the protests, which focused on the Plaza de la Constitucion, where the city’s memorial to Confederate soldiers is located.
Still, the City Commission will consider an ordinance on Monday aimed at preventing violence by regulating protests in the Plaza. The Rev. Ron Rawls, a local pastor who helped lead the 2017 protest, said he plans to file a lawsuit if it is enacted.
“They’ll definitely have a fight on their hands,” Rawls said.
The ordinance says that “protest and counter-protest participants shall remain on the perimeter sidewalk while event participants occupy the Plaza. Protest and counter-protest participants may also be lawfully separated from each other by law enforcement personnel at a designated location in order to maintain the peace in the Plaza and perimeter sidewalk.”
Those who don’t follow the rules could face a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 60 days in jail, according to City Code. The ordinance would also prohibit livestock, horses and vehicles from the Plaza, except vehicles of authorized government officials.
Assistant City Attorney John Cary said he wasn’t sure if any specific event prompted the ordinance, but he said it is mainly a public safety issue.
“We can’t and wouldn’t tell (people) they can’t protest at all,” he said. “What we can do is (make sure) that they’re kept separate from others who are trying to enjoy the event.”
The ordinance says that the city “has experienced a number of confrontations between different protest groups that have the potential to escalate to physical assaults, melees, or riots.”
Mayor Nancy Shaver said she couldn’t recall why the ordinance was created, but she said people have complained to her about events being disrupted by protests.
“I have heard from a number of folks saying, hey, we have these events ... and we find a big protest in the middle,” she said.
If enacted quickly — the first of two required hearings is Monday — the rules could be in effect for the next Light-Up! Night next month.
Rawls said the new regulations would take away his First Amendment rights, which is why he plans to sue if the ordinance is passed.
The ordinance says the city recognizes the First Amendment rights to protest, but that the city can adopt rules that deal with such activity with a number of guidelines, including that rules need to be “narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest.” The ordinance cites public safety among those significant interests.
Rawls said he plans to hold another protest during this year’s Light-Up! Night. He said the protest is against a culture of white supremacy in the city, and he said the monument is just one example of that.
The protest flier, which invites people to participate, reads, “Our objective is to consistently DISRUPT the tourism economy in a city infested by a normative culture of racism and white supremacy. The goal is to become equal partners in the life and opportunities of this community.”