JLF Western N.C. Blog

Free to Be Penalized for Not Following Stiff Rules – Provided Permission Is Granted

Tryon Town Councilors are deliberating to what extent they should control free speech. They are concerned the First Amendment right might obstruct commerce and create safety issues. The KKK was allowed to march through town twenty years ago, but when moms decided to crowd the sidewalks as part of a church-led protest against abortion, it was time to make some rules. It is expected that would-be picketers will first need to procure permission from the town. A draft ordinance further requires:

Written or printed placards or signs, flags or banners carried by individuals engaged in picketing shall be of such a size and/or carried on the sidewalks or other town-owned areas as to allow safe and unobstructed passage of pedestrian or vehicular traffic,” states the draft restriction. “The staff or pole on which a sign, flag or banner may be carried shall be made of corrugated material, plastic or wood and shall not exceed 40 inches in length and shall not be made of metal or metal alloy. If made of wood, the staff or pole shall be no greater than ¾ inch in diameter at any point. A staff or pole must be blunt at both ends.

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