CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston City Council passed new regulations on protests and demonstrations on Thursday evening. City leaders say the new “First Amendment Demonstration Ordinances” are designed to provide a clear and consistent process to have a safe environment for protest and demonstration activities in the city.
The rules are effective immediately and include regulations such as demonstrations cannot be 15-feet from a monument or memorial, and participants cannot openly carry a firearm.
Officials with the Charleston Police Department released a video on the new ordinances which they said provides clear definitions of what demonstrations are, how to apply for a permit and conditions for approval.
In addition, the ordinance details how demonstrations must be managed to ensure the safety of the public.
According to CPD officials, the First Amendment demonstration is now defined as any demonstration, assembly, picketing, speechmaking, marching, protesting, vigil, or religious service, and similar events that are held on the street, park or public place in the city that involves communicating or expression of views engaged in one or more people which is likely to draw a crowd.
“A First Amendment demonstration permit is required for all demonstrations including 25 people or more,” city authorities said. “The only exception to this is spontaneous demonstrations, which are in response to breaking news in the past 48 hours.”
Authorities say they can reasonably restrict the time, place, and manner of demonstrations in order to ensure public health and safety.
“This means law enforcement can direct participants to remain in a certain area and or separate opposing groups,” CPD officials said.
Other regulations include:
-Demonstrations cannot block vehicle or pedestrian traffic
-Demonstrations cannot be held within 15 feet of a monument fountain, historical marker, and several other places listed in the ordinance (which can be seen below).
-Participants cannot deface or attach signs or objects on any city property statue or monument,
-It is unlawful for any participant of a demonstration to harass or intimidate any bystanders