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‘Occupy Jackson’ Protesting Hours Restricted

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 29 Nov 2011 06:01pm | comments
Jackson City Council

Occupy Jackson protestors who have spent weeks at a park in the Capitol City are facing new rules. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the occupiers plan to continue their protesting.

The protestors, who say their message is about economic inequality, are now only allowed to be in the park from dawn until 11 pm.

After about a half an hour of debate Tuesday, four of sevenJackson CityCouncil members voted in favor of the restricted protesting hours.

Among them is Councilman Frank Bluntson, who thinks the arrangement balances free speech with needs such as public health and safety.

"If they are talking about wanting to have tents to sleep in, then what kind of freedom of speech are you emphasizing if you are sleeping in a tent after 11 or 12 o'clock," Bluntson said.

One council member voted against the rules, favoring even more restrictive times...while the remaining two council members abstained to demonstrate their support for 24-hour protesting.

Many of the Occupy Protestors like Monzell Stowels say they are not happy with the decision or the process behind it.

"I don't foresee me ever leaving until our issues are answered by our nation. What will save our people, in my opinion, will save our nation," Stowels said.

Stowels says he will follow the new rules, but expects that the protestors will apply for a new permit when the current permit expires on December 26.

Other cities have seen tense and sometimes violent clashes between police and protestors.

Jackson Police Chief Rebecca Coleman says so far the relationship between police and protestors has been polite, but officers will do what is necessary to enforce the rules.

"We have no reason to believe that they won't leave at the park at 11, since that is what they asked for. If that doesn't happen, then we will encourage them to live up to the terms of the ordinance. And so far, we haven't had a problem with that," Coleman said.

Protestors are allowed to continue their protesting on the sidewalk even after the 11 o'clock requirement pushes them from the park.



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