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Activist do silent protests in wake of protesting zones

The new protest zones were published last Friday by Florence police.

Posted: Sep 18, 2020 5:14 PM

Friday around 7 pm activists will gather outside of the Lauderdale County Courthouse for the 15th straight week of protests. They want a confederate monument taken down.

Last week, Florence police announced there would be new protesting zones to keep protestors and counter protestors seperate and to keep all protestors away from people who don't want to be a part of the activity. Protestors who want to see the monument gone can only protest around it with chants. Across the street is the counter protestors designated area and the business district of Flornece is supposed to be a "protest free zone".

"It's defiantly a violation of our first amendment rights but we decided to do silent protests," said Activist, Camille Bennett.

Before the designated zones. Bennett and her group walked along busy sidewalks chanting messages in the business district on Friday nights. But Florence police said with tensions rising it's limiting where protestors can demonstrate.

"We are going to continue to occupy downtown and make our presence known," said Bennett.

Bennett said the loophole around the designated areas are silent protests in the business district and so far it's worked. Florence police were there last Friday as the silent occupy downtown protests happened and no arrests were made.

"Last week it went very well and it was an effective protest," said Bennett.

Bennett said her group is staying within the law and exercising their First Amendement rights to express how they want this statue gone. She said while they may be silently protesting no one can silence the movement.

"It's extremely effective because it exposes even more. A lot of the complaints were that we were shouting and that it was an interruption but were still getting just as many complaints with the silent protest which helps us understand it's not our protests its our presence," said Bennett.

No protestors have been arrested and none of these protests have been violent compared to other cities. Right now the decision to remove the confederate monument is still in limbo between the city and county commission. 

2017 law makes it illegal for cities or counties to remove monuments that have been in one place for over 60 years. The one in Florence has been there for around 100 years.

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