Charleston City Council passes emergency ordinance banning funeral protests

Published: Jun. 23, 2015 at 9:04 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2015 at 10:39 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston City Council members unanimously approved an emergency ordinance designed to prevent protests at funerals of the victims of last week's church shooting.

The text of the ordinance states it is in the public interest to keep the peace at funeral ceremonies.

The ordinance pushes people 300 feet back from funeral service location, beginning an hour before the funeral and ending an hour after it is over.

"Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish the person's sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of the right," the ordinance reads. "But no person shall picket or engage in other protest activities, nor shall any association or corporation cause picketing or other protest activities to occur within three hundred (300) feet of any residence, cemetery, funeral home, church, synagogue or other establishment during or within one (1) hour before or one (1) hour after the conducting of a funeral, memorial or burial service at that location."

The ordinance defines "other protest activities" as "any action that is disruptive or undertaken to disrupt or disturb a funeral, memorial or burial service.

The ordinance is set to expire in 60 days.

Mayor Joe Riley said the ordinance gives a buffer to ensure funeral services would be conducted with safety and dignity.

The council also approved a resolution that supports taking down the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds.

Council members praised Riley and Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen for their leadership since the shooting happened.

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