Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg tweaks sign ordinance before gay pride festival

ST. PETERSBURG — City officials on Friday tweaked an ordinance that resulted in several arrests at last year's St. Pete Pride festival and will be enforced at the event today.

The changes came a day after a judge found five men guilty of violating the ordinance. The men were arrested at last year's festival because their signs were larger than the ordinance allows.

The men still could be acquitted. Judge Henry Andringa said he will take a few weeks to decide whether the ordinance violates constitutional free speech rights.

The ordinance requires protesters with large signs to stay in a "free speech" zone that abuts the gay-pride festival and prevents protesters within the festival from having signs wider than their torsos. City officials said the ordinance protects festivalgoers from being hit with large signs.

The men arrested at last year's parade traveled from Georgia to protest with signs that had Bible verses and antigay slogans on them. The signs were larger than their torsos. Police asked them to comply with the ordinance, but they refused and were arrested.

City attorneys say the ordinance is lawful because it does not censor the content of the signs.

But at trial Thursday, the men's attorney pointed out that while a box wider than a torso may not violate the ordinance, a box with the words "Jesus Saves" printed on it could.

City attorneys and police met for nearly two hours Friday and made minor changes to the ordinance, including restricting "items" — rather than signs — that are wider than the torso, with exception given to purses, backpacks and things used to transport goods and materials.

"It was a response to some of the objections they raised," City Attorney John Wolfe said.

Wolfe said protesters who carry signs that violate the ordinance will be asked to comply, but will be arrested if they don't.

Pride organizers tried to get a permit that would have allowed them to restrict the content of signs at the event, but city attorneys denied the request because that type of permit is usually reserved for parks that can be closed off, Wolfe said.

The St. Pete Pride Promenade and Street Festival begins with a parade at 10 a.m. that moves through Historic Kenwood and along Central Avenue. The festival is from noon to 5 p.m.

>>FAST FACTS

Today's events

The city's annual celebration of gay life moves into high gear today, starting with a parade and carrying on into the evening. Details at stpetepride.com.

• Promenade begins at 10 a.m. , moves through Historic Kenwood, then along Central Avenue.

• Street Festival, noon-5 p.m. on Central, from 21st to 28th streets; 250 vendors and entertainment on two stages, including headliners Josh Zuckerman, Naan Rancourt. Free.

• Rock Loud, Rock Proud, Betty with Someday Souvenir. 8 p.m. at the Coliseum. $20-$25.

St. Petersburg tweaks sign ordinance before gay pride festival 06/27/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 30, 2008 1:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 18: Despite feeling ill, this pilgrim passes the midpoint in her 500-mile journey on foot

    Travel

    Day 18: Lédigos to El Burgo Ranero: 34.3 km, 12.25 hours (Total for Days 1-18 = 428 km (266 miles)

    Today was a struggle.

  2. Former Rays/current Cubs manager Joe Maddon featured on NBC Sunday news show

    Blogs

    Former Rays and current Cubs manager Joe Maddon will be featured on this week's "Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly" show at 7 p.m. on NBC, the Harry Smith interview covering not just Maddon's on-field accomplishments but his extensive efforts to help his hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

    "Here's what's so …

    Joe Maddon talking with NBC News' Harry Smith.
  3. For starters: Souza returns to lineup

    Blogs

     

  4. Actor John Heard dies at age 72

    Blogs

    John Heard, who played so many roles in the '80s but was probably best known as the dad in the Home Alone movies, has died, according to media reports. He was 72.

  5. Linkin Park cancel tour, including Tampa concert, after death of singer Chester Bennington

    Blogs

    This news is not a surprise, but it is now official: Linkin Park has canceled their upcoming North American tour following this week's death of singer Chester Bennington.

    Linkin Park's Chester Bennington