BRIGHAM CITY -- Those wishing to protest, speak out on an issue or voice opposition to an issue will now have to follow new rules in Brigham City.
The city council recently approved an amendment to establish free-speech zones inside the city.
"This amendment is to protect everyone involved," said City Administrator Bruce Leonard. "Anyone who wants to protest can do so safely."
The purpose of the amendment is to help the city control traffic and crowds and protect public safety and public property.
"I applaud the mayor and the staff for bringing this forward," said Councilman Bruce Christensen. "It hasn't been a problem in the past, but it could be in the future."
A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah said the group is studying the city's policy to see if it infringes on people's right to free speech.
The amendment ensures that all free-speech zones shall provide ample opportunity for protestors to communicate their message and that the number of people anticipated to exercise their free-speech rights during an event can be accommodated.
Those wishing to protest must file an application with the city administrator, giving the city at least 24 hours' notice to allow the city time to establish the free-speech zone, control traffic and ensure public safety.
The amendment restricts protesters from engaging in activities that would obstruct or impede pedestrians and vehicles. It also restricts protesters in the use of mechanical or sound-amplification devices, including megaphones, bullhorns and electric amplifiers.
Banners, signs, pictures or other instructional material may not be attached to other city or private property, the new rules state.
An unlawful protest, which includes interfering with crowd control, using amplifiers or harassing bystanders with physical contact, will be considered a class C misdemeanor punishable with a fine of $750 and a possible jail term not to exceed 90 days.
Beth Gurrister was the only resident who spoke at the public hearing before the ordinance was approved.
"I am here to emphasize the importance of establishing a free-speech zone and to applaud the city in its foresight to look ahead," Gurrister said.
"One of the most important things we can do is to ensure the right to demonstrate and the freedom to assemble. This ordinance will go a long way toward public civility.
"The obvious absence of civility throughout this nation is really concerning to me."