Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Council OKs new guidelines restricting some activities on City Hall grounds - Sacramento Bee

The Sacramento City Council voted 8-0 Tuesday night to approve a set of new guidelines restricting some activities on the grounds of City Hall.

The ordinance was opposed by members of the Occupy movement, the American Civil Liberties Union and homeless advocacy groups -- some of whom dined on the front lawn of historic City Hall before Tuesday's council meeting. Cooking on City Hall grounds without a permit will now be illegal as a result of the ordinance.

Protests at City Hall without permits or fees will still be allowed during most of the day. But permits will be needed for a host of actions -- including using noisemakers during weekday work hours and erecting signs.

The new law would also prohibit protests between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., bathing in fountains on City Hall property and bringing fireworks, fog machines or weapons onto the grounds.

It has been met with ire by protesters. While many of the laws target actions by Occupy protesters, city officials insist the new guidelines were first drafted before members of the Occupy movement showed up at City Hall.

"Even if it's not about us, it still infringes on everyone's rights," said James Clark, an Occupy protester. Behind him, his comrades munched on plates of baked beans, potato salad and cookies. Some held signs that read, "Free Speech."

"Paying for free speech, that's a concept," said John Kraintz, an advocate of the Safe Ground homeless movement, referring to the permits that would be necessary for some actions. "We have real issues and we need to have an open and frank discussion and we shouldn't have to pay for it."

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