FLORENCE, Ala. – Friday, Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler announced changes to protest policies outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse.
According to Chief Tyler, the following rules are now in place:
- Protesters will be required to remain south of Tennessee Street and west of South Court Street (courthouse side)
- Counter-protesters will be required to stay south of Tennessee Street and east of South Court Street (Long Lewis/Suntrust Building side)
- Megaphones, microphones, and other devices for amplifying sound are restricted to the courthouse property only, and so long as the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office allows it
- Yelling, chanting, and signs remain allowed in all protest boundaries as long as noise levels remain reasonable
- In the protest areas, roads and sidewalks must remain clear
- The three blocks of North Court Street between Tennessee and Tuscaloosa Streets are restricted to business and restaurant patrons only. No protesting is allowed.
- FPD has a zero-tolerance policy toward protesters protesting on North Court Street or crossing South Court Street to the other side and will enforce state codes regarding disorderly conduct.
The department stated the policies are supported by the ACLU as outlined in the organization’s protester’s rights literature, specifically, “Police are permitted to keep antagonistic groups separated, but should allow them to be within sight and sound of one another.” Additionally, the department says the ACLU also agrees that the police can place restrictions on protest routes and sound equipment when public safety requires it.
News 19 reached out to the ACLU and they said they weren’t consulted on the protest guidelines.
“Neither the ACLU of Alabama nor ACLU National was consulted regarding the Florence Police Department’s new protest restrictions. They are simply citing our know-your-rights materials on our website, which does not equal agreement or support. Furthermore, we have not seen the location, and so would not be able to say whether these are reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions.”ACLU
The department says recent events, such as protests last weekend and social media threats, have led to these boundaries.