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The Greenville News
ANDERSON - More than 250 miles from the nearest harbor and
without an Indian in sight, Robert B. Clarkson held his own
version of the Boston Tea Party at his Concord Avenue residence
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Clarkson arrested for picketing
The city of Greenville is considering amending its ordinance on picketing to allow small groups to demonstrate without a permit, and an Anderson man said the change is part of a settlement of his suit against the city over his arrest in 1982 for picketing.
The proposed amendment would clarify an ordinance that was drafted decades ago, City Attorney Steve Kern said Friday. He said the current ordinance makes no distinction between a demonstration, a parade or a festival such as Fall for Greenville, while an amended version would define various instances in which a permit would or would not be necessary.
"That (ordinance) is a really old thing, and we've been processing too many permits because it's not really clear, Kern said. "We need to differentiate activities that would disrupt traffic and those that are just First Amendment cases.
Kern said the proposed amendment will not be brought before City Council for another month or two because some points still need to be worked out. He said city officials are considering whether to put a cap on the size of a group that can picket without a permit.
"Sometimes you have to require a permit for large demonstrations just to alert the police that there might be some conflict with opposing groups, Kern said. "There's no question that (the picketers) would get the permit. Requiring it would just provide for the protection of the participants and the public by giving the police some advance notice.
Robert Clarkson, a tax protester from
Anderson, said Friday the amended ordinance was part of an
out-of-court settlement reached last month in his suit against
the city. The settlement also included the city paying Clarkson
$4,500 in damages and legal fees.
"We weren't parading and stopping traffic; it was just two of us outside the IRS office with placards, Clarkson said. "The people of Greenville have been denied access to hearing views declared publicly (because of the ordinance).
Kern said the city routinely reviews ordinances to see if they need to be updated and was considering amending the picketing ordinance anyway, but he acknowledged Clarkson's suit forced officials to look at changing it sooner.
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