Tryon considers picketing policyPublished 10:09am Thursday, November 29, 2012
An anti-abortion protest held in downtown Tryon in October sparked Tryon officials to consider a picketing policy during the Nov. 20 town council meeting.
Tryon Town Manager Caitlin Martin said she was asked to put the item on last week’s agenda after the picketing Tryon had last month.
On Oct. 21, 52 members of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church lined the sidewalks of Trade Street holding signs against abortion.
Tryon commissioner Doug Arbogast expressed concerns during the council meeting and asked if there is anyway the town could prohibit future protests from blocking businesses, “because that was an issue.”
Council discussed the possibility of restricting future picketing to a certain area, with McCown Street mentioned.
Town attorney Bailey Nager said the issue is a little bit “dicey,” because the town is talking about the right to free speech.
Nager suggested if the town is going to make restrictions it should say that in the ordinance, such as that picketing should not be done in front of open businesses.
“You can regulate time and place,” he said.
Tryon Mayor Alan Peoples said within reason the town has a right to restrict picketing. He suggested restricting demonstrations to McCown Street since it gives people downtown access and a safe place.
Martin said the town’s current ordinance states that people are allowed to picket or demonstrate as long as it doesn’t interfere with public safety.
Commissioner George Baker said he doesn’t have a problem with having a police officer on the street during picketing.
Council directed Martin to look into the policy further and council will discuss options during its Dec. 18 meeting.