Protestors gather outside City Hall before BayWalk vote
ST. PETERSBURG -- Carrying signs that read, "Baker hates free speech" and "Don't stifle free speech," more than 20 protesters gathered outside City Hall to demonstrate against a proposal to privatize the sidewalk fronting BayWalk this morning.
The City Council will vote on the measure after a 9 a.m. public hearing.
"This entire process has been a slap in the face of democracy," said Chris Ernesto, an organizer for St. Pete for Peace, a group that demonstrated outside of BayWalk for years.
Ernesto said the effort to make it easier to cite unwanted BayWalk patrons for trespassing stems partly from racial prejudice, not an aversion to protesters.
"Unfortunately, in this city we still have people afraid of young black people and young people in general," he said.