Winston-Salem City Council considers changing free-speech ordinance

In order to thwart the Winston Salem Occupy Wallstreet group.

Winston-Salem City Council considers changing free-speech ordinance
By: LAURA GRAFF | Winston-Salem Journal
Published: December 20, 2011

With no public notice and no public input, the Winston-Salem City Council on Monday night considered temporarily changing the city ordinance governing free speech and public assembly to prohibit such activities on City Hall grounds

This was proposed by Dan Besse, city council member, who some may remember for his campaigns for Lt Gov.

Council member Dan Besse, who suggested changing the ordinance, said he agreed with Occupy Winston-Salem's goals of eliminating corporate influence in politics. Besse said he proposed changing the ordinance because he was concerned about public safety and about protecting the City Hall grounds.

"There is nothing at this point to prevent some quasi-fascist group from coming out and getting into a screaming argument with these guys on that corner of the lawn, which was never designed and isn't set up to accommodate extended open-air public meetings," Besse said

.

City Council member Wanda Merschel and others said not so fast!

Council members were divided over the restrictions, and several said they were not comfortable voting on the changes — even if they would be temporary — without allowing city residents to offer their opinions.

"What happened to the notice and the public hearing?" asked council member Wanda Merschel, who represents the city's Northwest Ward.

If you live in Winston Salem, please attend the next city council meeting, or if you don't live there, please pass this on.

The Winston-Salem City Council will consider the proposed changes Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 101 N. Main St.

For details on Occupy Winston-Salem, visit www.occupywinstonsalem.org