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New restrictions OK’d for Arizona Capitol protests

An immigrants' rights supporter protests in front of the Capitol Police at the State Capitol in Phoenix Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Jack Kurtz)

Arizona legislators on Thursday imposed new restrictions on demonstrations and other public gatherings at the Capitol complex, a reaction to loud noise and congestion resulting from activities that include protests against legislation on illegal immigration in the past two years.

The Legislative Council, a House-Senate oversight committee comprised of legislative leaders and senior lawmakers, voted 8-3 to approve new rules governing activities in the area of the two legislative buildings and the Old Capitol.

The rules bar assemblies within 10 feet of the three buildings and allow amplified sound systems only on nearby lawns and if the group has obtained a permit.

There’s also a 10 p.m. curfew, although one legislator who voted against the rules noted that legislative chambers sometimes hold late night or early morning sessions at crunch times in the legislative session.

Some supporters cited protesters’ use of handheld bullhorns while demonstrating on the concrete plaza between the House and Senate buildings — where the rules now will ban use of amplified equipment — and crowds that gathered right outside doorways to the legislative buildings.

Bullhorns used by protesters against illegal immigration legislation have produced near-earsplitting sound at times, and some lawmakers have complained that congestion made it difficult to enter their buildings.

Majority Republicans voted yes, saying the rules don’t ban demonstrations but set reasonable limits to protect the public, public buildings and the conduct of official business.

“People who have come down here to be part of the process are always welcome,” said House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden.

Democrats voted no, citing concerns about infringing on constitutional rights for assembly, free speech and petitioning the government free speech rights.

“We are dealing with very fundamental rights,” said Rep. Albert Hale, D-Window Rock.

Mike Braun, executive director of the Legislative Council’s staff office, said the rules continue the current practice of requiring individuals or groups to generally obtain permits for rallies and other events involving equipment and sound gear on lawns adjacent to the east sides of the two legislative buildings.

Getting a permit generally requires submitting proof of liability insurance but that requirement will continue to be waived under some circumstances, such as for brief news conferences or gatherings scheduled in response to short-notice developments at the Legislature, Braun said.

7 comments

  1. one more time for my friends around the world to laugh at the antics the governing people pull in Arizona. Arizona is full of ignorant and selfish concerns.

  2. I am one of the proud protesters. Do they honestly think they can silence us? It will never happen. They opened a brand new can of worms.

  3. “People who have come down here to be part of the process are always welcome,” said House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden (home of whackjobs galore). What a crock of BS Andy.
    This from the party that constantly whines about government intrusion, overreach etc. But trample the 1st amendment? Not a problem for Candy Andy and pals.

  4. What a shame that common consideration and self-control aren’t enough to help keep some people within the bounds of “peaceful demonstration” peramiters and the authorities feel the need to intervene. So grateful for my upbringing including things called manners and class. Sorry for those that missed that lesson. Ever noticed the lower your voice, the nearer people draw to listen?

  5. The First Amendment to the Constiution of the United States gives the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition government for a redress of grievances. This is a given human right, a political freedom and part of our civil liberties. You cannot legislate this away just because you are uncomfortable. As a legislator you must listen to the grievances and take actions to address them. You cannot “closet” or “isolate” yourselves because you are on the taxpayers payroll. While I am not a demonstrator, I am a voting citizen who understands that I have the right to assemble and I will not stand by and have this Senate take my rights away. You have done enough already. I thought the Republicans believed and supported the Constitution and Democracy. Why are they now bent on taking the people’s rights away?

  6. Seems to me I remember budget bills being discussed during the last session well after the new curfew. Were people who wanted to be part of the process welcome then? Now that there’s an actual curfew, I wonder if the Republican legislative majority will make sure that more and more of the people’s business is done under cover of darkness.

  7. Let them keep making laws… A point will be reached and people will be like NO. Making a law that breaks their own LAW should be considered TREASON, MOST OF ALL A LAW THAT REVOKES OUR FREEDOM. ALL THESE MEN SHOULD BE TRIED on an American Idol kind of basis wear you enter your SS make your vote. THEN send all their money to CHINA. and let them rot in their OWN PRISONS THEY BUILT FOR YOU!

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