Permitting problems threaten "March For Our Lives" protest

Source: WGCL

Liberty Plaza was built next to the state capitol so people would have a place to exercise which is part of their first amendment rights.

"March For Our Lives" organizers were planning to hold a rally there on March 24. That's the group of survivors from the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida last month.

Protestors hoping to follow up on this gun control protest one week after the school shooting with their own demonstration later this month have run into a big roadblock.

"I think the denial of a permit to use Liberty Plaza on a Saturday, March 24 is a denial of First Amendment rights," said State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver

State Rep. and attorney, Mary Margaret Oliver, says it centers on a relatively new rule: You must have an official host for your protest during off-hours. "I think that you should not condition a permit based on an invitation," said Oliver. "Democracy is about showing up and exercising your First Amendment rights."

CBS46 spoke with state property officer Steve Stancil from the building authority to have him explain the policy.

"If there is gonna be an event after hours, there needs to be a sponsor by a constitutional officer. "They have to pay for additional security and they have to pay for the Port o Johns," said Steve Stancil.

Stancil says the requirement was adopted after vandals caused 10-thousand dollars worth of damage to Liberty Plaza. But some people are suspicious because the building authority cut off the power for speakers during the first post-parkland protest.

"That morning, for some reason, somebody had left it on, so we turned it off. But they were told the day before we would not be providing them power," said Stancil.

Now, without a host, the place with liberty in its name, may not serve as the place for that group of protestors on March 24.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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