Citing damage caused by the Occupy Louisville protest, Mayor Greg Fischer has proposed an ordinance that would forbid residents from camping out in small public parks overnight.
Six months ago, local activists affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement began demonstrating at the Belvedere and Jefferson Square Park in downtown. But in December, Metro Government requested the protest be moved to Founder’s Square along Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
Demonstrators created a tent city and used the park told hold meetings and operate a small media center, but when city officials attempted to shut down the movement altogether they learned their regulations did not apply to smaller green spaces such as Founder’s Square, which is not considered a Metro Park.
Fischer says the Occupy Louisville encampment exposed a loophole in the city’s regulations, but added people may still protest and assemble to exercise their First Amendment rights.
“People will still have the right to assemble and protest in green spaces, but they will not be permitted to camp overnight,” he said in a news release.
The city spent approximately $7,500 to clean the property and place new sod in the park before it re-opened last weekend. Fischer’s office also wants to bill Occupy Louisville protestors for the cost of the cleanup.
Under the new law, residents could still camp at the designated campground in Jefferson Memorial Forest and in green spaces larger than three acres. However, a permit must be obtained from the Public Works department.
The legislation has been co-sponsored by council members Rick Blackwell, D-12, and Madonna Flood, D-24, and will receive its first read this Thursday.
Current demonstrator Mikal Forbush told WFPL that this will make council members decide the future of protests like Occupy Louisville.
“This will definitely make them choose. And I have no reservations in saying that it will probably pass,” he said.