City of St. Petersburg, City Council
175 Fifth St. N
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
August 8, 2012
I would like to again thank Council members Kennedy, Dudley, Gerdes and Nurse for meeting with us in person previously. And I also extend my appreciation for listening to the concerned residents of St. Petersburg at the public hearing and deferring the vote on the RNC Ordinance so you can spend some more time to consider its implications.
With the ordinance written as it is now, we cannot stress enough the importance of voting it down. This ordinance undermines a fundamental element which allows our republic to exist as a democratic society, the freedom guaranteed to us in the first amendment of the constitution of the Unites States, a right we are born with.
While in 1941 Supreme Court opinion of Cox v. New Hampshire provided legal justification for regulation of reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on the freedom of speech and peaceable assembly, it has since been used to trample these rights. See the attached document that shows a recent court ruling from the 2004 RNC in New York (yes, it was just settled after eight years). It shows that you may be operating within the constitution as amended in 1941 with your ordinance, however you are not compelled to enact such drastic measures which threaten the free exercise of civil liberties. Remember, the constitution also allowed the ownership of human beings before it was amended in recognition of evolving standards of decency. Cox likewise needs to be corrected, as it contributes to the context of an escalation of authoritarianism in our national society. You do not have to be complicit in this assault on a free state.
The creation of a parade route, or public viewing area is not a bad idea in and of itself. If it were an option for people to exercise their first amendments, that is a great idea. However, this is not how it is designed in the ordinance. As per the ordinance, it create this space at the expense of expressing the first amendment in other areas. We have this right where we stand, not where it is designated. Our forefather’ s fought for this right for the entire boundaries of our republic, not where it was convenient for a local government.
Furthermore, the ordinance does nothing to combat the actual concern it pretends to address, the protection from behavior of less than 1% of the participants that do not care what ordinance you enact. The very people you claim as the reason for this ordinance, will do what they want no matter what. And law enforcement are fully capable of dealing with them should they arrive to misbehave. The ordinance is a threat to the residents, it penalizes them in order to combat a few who will not be affected by this ordinance.
Secret Service does not need this ordinance. They have their safe zone perimeter established by federal mandates, and are not affected whether this ordinance is passed or not.
The rights we have, are already our rights and do not need to be redefined or emphasized again in this ordinance.
The laws that a few may violate, are already laws and this ordinance does not need to redefine or emphasize them.
Law enforcement are fully equipped, trained, and capable of responding to any threats that may arise, and this ordinance grants them powers beyond what is necessarily, and in fact becomes dangerous. Virtually every person becomes subject to police intervention in this ordinance, and gives full power to law enforcement to decide whether to detain that individual. The very definition of a police state. The balance of power is thrown off in this ordinance under the false veil of security, which it does not provide anyway. Both security and freedom are sacrificed. And for 5 days we are not a democracy.
This is a dangerous move. One the people have every right to rebel against should you enact it.
I urge you to do the right thing, and radically alter the ordinance, or simply vote it down. It serves no valid purpose for the free residents of St. Petersburg. Listen to your heart, to your conscience, and vote this down.
Free Speech Project