Florence Police Issue Protest Plan For Future Protests

By  | September 11, 2020 | Filed under: News

FLORENCE-On Friday, September 11 Florence Police chief Ron Tyler issued a public statement regarding protests in Florence:

Please see the attached documents that outline our plan for downtown protests.  Based on video from this past weekend and other threatening social media posts, I have determined, in the interest of public safety, to modify the police department’s response to the downtown protests.  

PUBLIC NOTICE:  In the interest of Public Safety, the Florence Police Department is establishing the following boundaries for downtown protests.  Effective immediately, those persons wishing to protest the existence of the confederate monument in downtown Florence may do so, but will be required to remain in the area south of Tennessee St. and west of S. Court St. (courthouse side).  Counter protesters may protest in the area south of Tennessee St and east of S. Court St. (Long Lewis/Suntrust Building side).  Yelling, chanting, and singing in this area is permitted if the noise level remains reasonable.  No sound amplification devices are allowed, except for the Courthouse property, and so long as the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s office continues to permit it.  All street and sidewalks must remain open and clear for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, respectively. 

Moreover, the three blocks of N. Court St., spanning from Tennessee St. to Tuscaloosa St. is restricted to restaurant and business patrons only.  No active protesting is permitted in this area.  The Florence Police Department will have zero tolerance for any protester crossing S. Court St. to the opposing side or protesting on N, Court St.  We are prepared to enforce the provisions of Disorderly Conduct (Alabama Code 13a-11-7).  Enforcement action will be taken against anyone violating the law. 

Out of concern for public safety, the police department is allowed keep protesters and counter protesters separated.  Also in the interest of public safety, we may keep protesters away from citizens not wanting to be a part of the protest activity.  The idea of keeping antagonistic groups separated is supported by the ACLU as outlined in the “ACLU Know Your Rights; Protester’s Rights” literature.  Herein, the ACLU states, “Police are permitted to keep antagonistic groups separated but should allow them to be within sight and sound of one another.”  The ACLU also agrees that when necessary for public safety, the police can place restrictions on “routes” and “sound equipment” used during protests.  Based on recent events, these restrictions are necessary. 

This plan is a reasonable, common sense approach.  It keeps both protest groups safely separated while allowing them to express their First Amendment rights and peacefully protest.  At the same time, this plan allows downtown businesses to operate with little disruption, and allows downtown patrons not involved in the protests to shop and eat without fear or concern for their safety and well-being. 

 

In short: 

  • Protesters and Counter protesters can protest in the area of S. Court St. between Tennessee St. and Dr. Hicks Blvd., provided that:
  • Monument protesters stay WEST of S. Court St. and,
  • Counter protesters stay EAST of S. Court St.
  • All protestors must stay SOUTH of Tennessee St.
  • Protesters may carry signs as they march and may shout, sing, and chant so long as they stay in their respective protest areas.
  • Monument protesters may gather at the Courthouse and use sound amplification devices, as long as the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s office permits

NO active protesting is permitted on N. Court St in the business/restaurant district. Protesters who choose to protest in this area will be subject to zero tolerance as outlined below:

As necessary to maintain Public Safety, if anyone crosses established boundary lines, FPD will take enforcement action for any of the following behavior:

  • Fighting, or violent tumultuous, or threatening behavior.
  • Anyone making unreasonable noise.
  • Anyone using abusive or obscene language or who makes an obscene gesture.
  • Anyone obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
  • Anyone who refuses to comply with a lawful order to disperse.
  • Any person using their vehicle’s horn for any reason other than as a reasonable warning or in any manner that is unnecessary or unreasonably loud.

For more information:

See the Alabama Criminal Codes for Disorderly Conduct here:

http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/1975/coatoc.htm

http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/1975/coatoc.htm

See the Alabama Motor Vehicle and Traffic Code for Horns and Warning devices here: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/1975/coatoc.htm

See the ACLU Protesters Rights information here:

https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/protesters-rights/

 

Ron Tyler

Chief of Police/Florence Police Department 

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