City of Florence reaches settlement with nonprofit group that wanted Confederate Monument removed
FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - The group of protesters that wanted the Confederate Monument in Florence moved, filed a lawsuit in April that the City of Florence has now settled.
It all started with one woman and a group of protestors that wanted to get rid of a Confederate Monument. That woman, Camille Bennett, said while protesting, the city violated her first amendment rights by making it almost impossible to protest in the way they wanted.
”I feel like an organization, Project Say Something and all of our supporters have helped to make history here in Florence,” Bennett said.
Bennett said when she was protesting to move the confederate monument, known as Eternal Vigil, she felt like her first amendment rights were violated. She filed a free speech lawsuit in April and now five months later, the city has decided to settle.
“And to make our first amendment rights possible and to hopefully help generations to come understand they have the right to peacefully protest when they need to,” Bennett said.
For the settlement to be fulfilled, the city council must pass new parade and noise ordinances in the meeting. The lead counsel on the case, Tish Gotell Faulks, said that the city must clarify how you go about getting a permit, when you need a permit and the timing of getting that permit. She also said it must clearly be defined what a parade is.
“The problem is, just because you’re irritated by a protest, doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to do it,” Faulks said. “Just because you disagree with what they’re saying, doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to shut them down from saying it.”
Bennett said she is not done yet.
“That goal still stands,” Bennett said.
Project Say Something still wants the monument to be moved from the public place it is in to a more private area like a cemetery.
The council did pass the new parade ordinance unanimously. This will clarify how you go about getting a permit, when you need a permit and the timing of getting that permit.
However, the noise ordinance had a vote of five to one meaning that it did not pass. The council said that they will revisit the vote in the next meeting. The founder of Project Say Something Camille Bennett who organized those protests said they will see this through to the end.
“We never understood what the noise decibel was or wasn’t,” Bennet said. “They created protest zones. We had silent zones. So that was the one that we were most concerned about. I do feel like it’s incomplete. I do feel like it’s definitely a cliffhanger. But what I know to be true is that we will be consistent and persistent. We’re not going to leave them alone until they make a decision.”
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