FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) — Florence city officials reached a tentative agreement to settle a free speech lawsuit brought by Project Say Something, who staged dozens of protests against a confederate monument between 2020-2022 in the city.
In order for the settlement to be fulfilled, the city council had to pass new parade and noise ordinances.
Chapter 17 of the city’s code regarding parade permits was amended at the last city council meeting in September. During Tuesday’s city council meeting, council members voted unanimously to amend Chapter 15 regarding noise.
As it stands now, the amended Chapter 17 code simplifies how one can get a permit, when a permit is needed, and the timing of getting that permit.
The amended Chapter 15 code now provides specific sound levels, times of day, and identifies city zones as it pertains to noise. Noise levels will be measured on a decibel device by a police officer.
“Having this noise ordinance revised is such a big deal to me. So, coming out and supporting it and having this be a win for us – it’s a great thing,” Project Say Something Communications & Networking Director Kyliee Davis-Ransom said.
The vote to amend these city codes comes after Project Say Something led protests against the confederate monument outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse, known as ‘Eternal Vigil.’
The organization filed a lawsuit after they said the city used its noise ordinance to stifle them, and its parade ordinance kept them in a “protest zone” at the intersection of Court Street and Tennessee Street.
“We can go through our daily lives and pretend that we’re united…we’re progressive…we’re better than we ever have been…but I think that monument still standing there is a constant reminder that we haven’t progressed as far as we like to think,” Project Say Something Co-Deputy Director Lee Murkey said.
Now that the settlement has been fulfilled, Project Say Something is pushing forward with its goal.
“We will never, ever, ever give up. We will continue to protest when we need just like we did before. They need to look forward to seeing a marker that describes the hate and racism that the statue represents. We are never going anywhere,” Project Say Something Founder Camille Bennett stated.
The monument outside the courthouse is property controlled by the Lauderdale County Commission. Under Alabama’s 2017 Memorial Preservation Act, removing or altering monuments more than 40 years old carries a $25K fine.