City council adopts updated picket ordinance



Orlando City Commissioners adopted an updated version of the picket ordinance Monday afternoon that still has some residents and activists concerned.

The ordinance, which passed 6-1 with Commissioner Patty Sheehan dissenting, says it is “unlawful for people to picket before or about the residence or dwelling of any person...This section shall not apply to a person peacefully picketing upon property which he owns or which he is lessee or peaceful picketing within a place commonly used for public assembly.”

If for example, a notorious public figure (think Casey Anthony or George Zimmerman) were staying in his or her private home, and a group of people decided to station themselves outside that residence and protest that figure, it would be illegal according to the ordinance.

The ordinance is one of several older ordinances that Mayor Buddy Dyer asked city staff to update and make sure they were constitutional, Dyer says. However, Commissioner Regina Hill and some commenters had reservations about the ordinance because it did not address “mixed-use” areas of the city, such as businesses that have condos on top.

Rich Siwica, appearing on behalf of the Central Florida AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, said he did not agree with some of the language of the ordinance because it could impede on First Amendment rights and was not specific in its difference between “picketing” and “targeted picketing.”

City Attorney Mayanne Downs said the city is following the language of the U.S. Supreme Court and trying to get the ordinance up to par with the court’s rulings.

Although she was against the ordinance at the beginning of the meeting, Hill finally agreed with the majority and voted to adopt the ordinance, but said the council should take another look at parts of the ordinance some residents disagree with. 

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