Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Men violated sign ordinance at St. Petersburg Pride protest

LARGO — Five men who protested in last year's St. Pete Pride festival were found guilty of violating a city ordinance Thursday, though they still could win an acquittal if the judge rules the ordinance is unconstitutional.

After about three hours of testimony, Judge Henry Andringa found that the men violated a city ordinance by carrying signs that were wider than their torsos during last year's festival, which drew more than 40,000 people. The signs said things like "Real men marry women" and "Heaven free of f---, hell full of f---."

But Andringa said he will take more time to determine if the ordinance violates the First Amendment.

"I've found them guilty so far but not completely guilty yet," Andringa said.

Thursday's trial came two days before the Pride parade returns to the streets of St. Petersburg and the judge declined to bar the protesters from appearing again with their signs.

David Schauer, a lawyer who is co-chairman of the Pride event, asked Andringa to issue an order preventing the men from protesting Saturday, but Andringa told Schauer to file a motion today.

The men, who are all from Georgia, declined to comment. Their lawyer, Krisanne Hall, also would not answer questions. Hall is with the law firm of David Gibbs, who takes on Christian causes and is best known for representing the parents of Terri Schiavo.

Schauer said he fears the protesters will show up again Saturday. So he obtained an assembly permit this year, which he believes will prevent the men from bringing signs into the festival that have not been approved by the Pride board of directors.

In a previous interview with the St. Petersburg Times, one of the men, Francis Primavera, said the group is from a Georgia church. He said they have traveled to several southern cities to protest gay pride events.

Protests at the 2006 festival led to scuffles, prompting the city to adopt an ordinance prohibiting bull horns and signs larger than the carrier's torso. The ordinance designated an area where protesters could carry large signs, but banned them inside the festival. City officials said the ordinance is designed to keep pedestrian traffic flowing and to protect people from being bumped in the head with signs.

St. Petersburg police asked the men several times last year to carry their signs sideways so they would not extend past their torsos, but the men refused.

The men say the ordinance is unconstitutional because it violates free speech. But Kimberly Proano, an attorney for the city, said the ordinance is lawful because it does not regulate the messages written on the signs.

Andringa said he will give both sides time to file additional motions about the constitutional issue, so his ruling won't be for at least three weeks.

Pride preparations

Part of Central Avenue in the Grand Central District will be closed Saturday for the St. Pete Pride festival, and PSTA bus routes through that area will be detoured.

From 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., nine bus routes will be altered for the event, which will close Central Avenue from 21st Street to 28th Street. Commuters can check the "Rider Alert" page on www.PSTA.net or call the PSTA InfoLine at (727) 540-1900 to get specifics.

Men violated sign ordinance at St. Petersburg Pride protest 06/26/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 5:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hulk Hogan talks Tampa Bay, depression and politics on Fox News' 'Objectified'

    Blogs

    For better or worse, Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea is our guy.

    Hulk Hogan shows Harvey Levin his wrestling boots on Fox News' "Objectified."
  2. Pumpkin pileup: Fiery crash causes mess, closes portion of I-75 in Pasco

    Accidents

    Drivers on Interstate 75 in Pasco County should expect continued delays on Friday as road crews work to clean up a mess of debris — and pumpkins — left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash in the early morning hours.

    Road crews clean up a mess of crash debris - and pumpkins - left behind after a fiery semitrailer truck crash on Interstate 75 in Pasco County on Sept. 22, 2017. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game

    Blogs

    In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?

    Blogs

    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  5. In this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, photo distributed on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. [Associated Press]