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Proposed Jacksonville RNC Security Bill Sets Guidelines On Protests

A sign that says "Black Lives Matter, No Martial Law" along with a pride flag with people holding both outside of City hall.
Sky Lebron
Jacksonville protesters outside of City Hall in early June.

UPDATE: President Trump has cancelled Jacksonville's portion of the Republican National Convention.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and his administration are pushing an emergency bill that they are hoping City Council will approve when it goes to a full vote Tuesday, July 28. 

The bill outlines the Republican National Convention overlay zone, as well as the security zone where there will be extra security and signage. 

Related: Jax RNC In Further Jeopardy As Council President Speaks Out Against Current Plan

The ordinance also carves out a section pertaining to protesters who wish to march and speak while Jacksonville’s part of the RNC is going on. In it are a number of regulations protesting groups will need to abide by. 

Groups larger than 20 will need to apply for a permit through the city, depending on how they want to protest.

Larger groups of more than 200 people will not be allowed to hold their event within 500 feet of another group with more than 200 people. 

If protesters want to march on the set route the bill outlines in the area just north of the sports complex, they’ll need to get an official “Parade Route Permit.” 

“Because of the commitment of the resources of the JSO to ensuring security within the Convention Overlay Zone, the City cannot accommodate parades on City streets in the Convention Overlay Zone except for Parades on the Official Parade Route,” the bill reads. 

To hold a march on a city street, a group must apply for a special event permit. 

There is also a “Park Use Permit” for groups who want to use the allotted green spaces the city will provide. 

The “Park Use Permits” apply to a bit more than the marching route, including Lot X, Lot XX, Lot Y, along with Hemming Park, the grassed lot where the Jacksonville Landing used to stand, and the grassed lot where the former Duval County Courthouse and old City Hall Annex used to be. 

The marches can only take place from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., and they can only be up to an hour long, according to the bill’s language. Park Use Permits last a half hour, and are only available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

If a march starts more than 10 minutes late, the full hour will be forfeited unless it’s for reasons outside of the permit holder’s control. Sound amplification devices like megaphones and microphones won’t be allowed during the march. No vehicles are allowed near marches. 

An official “Speakers Platform” will be available on the corner of Lot XX. Speakers using the platform will be limited to 30 minutes of time. Speakers are not allowed to bring their own sound amplification equipment. It will be provided by the city. 

According to the bill, the city would accept applications for permits at any time, but because they anticipate “a large volume of requests for the available space”, they encourage people to file appropriate forms by August 14 at 5 p.m. The permits would be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

The City Council will be discussing the bill in a meeting with Curry’s administration on Friday. Since it’s an emergency, it will need to pass with a two-thirds majority vote in front of the full council, meaning the bill will need 13 “yes” votes. 

Sky Lebron can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at@SkylerLebron.

Former WJCT News reporter