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Glens Falls Common Council considers local law that would regulate protests

October 09, 2019 03:47 PM

GLENS FALLS – The Glens Falls Common Council is considering a local law that would put regulations on protests in the city. They said it comes after many incidents where people have come to them saying they felt unsafe at rallies.

Tuesday night at a meeting the council passed a resolution allowing a public hearing to be held on the local law. The common council said they modeled the local law off of what Saratoga Springs has in place.

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Agata Stanford, the president of New Resistance USA, said back in August at a rally outside of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s office in Glens Falls she feared for her safety.

"It got really outrageous,” explained Stanford. “Screaming, yelling obscenities, bullhorns blasting with sirens in our faces. It got to a point where we have little children with us when we do a march or a rally.”

Stanford and Joe Seeman, who volunteers with Saratoga Progressive Action, went to the Glens Falls mayor and police chief with their concerns after incidents with counter protestors.

"We have a lawful right to assembly, constitutional right to air our grievances to our elected officials and they're goal is to stop democracy with their hatred," said Seeman.

However, groups that are on the other side of the aisle like American Patriots Express (APEX) said they feel they’re being misrepresented.

"They paint a picture that we're aggressive, however with the amount of things that they say and things that they do in numbers too,” said APEX member Elizabeth Mimms-Garger.

The local law would require demonstrations of 25 people or more to apply for what’s called a “demonstration declaration” at least 10 days prior to a demonstration. The law also prohibits people from wearing facial coverings, hanging banners on private buildings, or breaking up into smaller groups when rallying. The list of other limitations can be found here.

“They’re also asking that we don't carry flag poles and that we should carry the flags horizontally, which is a direct violation of the United States flag code,” said APEX member Michael Berkowitz.

At Tuesday’s common council meeting, the majority of those in attendance whether supporting left or right ideals both had concerns over the local law infringing on first amendment rights.

"I've watched rallies, I've attended rallies and we are allowed to support our president, we’re allowed to support the first amendment,” said Mimms-Garger.

However, those who support the local law said they hope to see it pass with just a few changes made to it.

"We appreciate what the mayor and city council has come up with,” said Seeman. “Some common sense regulations. They respect and protect our first amendment rights."

NewsChannel 13 did reach out to Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s office regarding the protests in Glens Falls outside her office. We were told the Congresswoman would be available to speak at a town hall she is hosting on Thursday, Oct. 10.

The public hearing on the local law is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7:25 in the evening.

Credits

Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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