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Barricades' removal recommended

Since metal barricades were put up at BayWalk, a council member notes, "instead of 10 protesters, now we have 200."

By Times Staff Writer
Published August 24, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - The City Council will likely vote Thursday to recommend that the mayor remove barricades placed at BayWalk to contain protesters and will ask him to develop a plan to close the street in front of the entertainment complex.

Council members signaled the move during a workshop Tuesday.

"The sentiment was (barricades) have done more harm than good," council member Bill Foster said. "Things were kind of quiet until the barricades went up. Now instead of 10 protesters, we have 200."

Demonstrators from St. Pete for Peace, who have come to BayWalk for more than two years, say the metal gates, erected in July, are an attempt to squelch their voice. Since the arrest of six protesters earlier this month, their numbers have swelled considerably.

Foster said closing the block of Second Avenue N in front of the entertainment complex would not be permanent and effective only on weekends.

The action, he said, could address pedestrian safety concerns that officials have said required the barricades.

Police Chief Chuck Harmon previously said the barricades are effective and spoke against closing the street, saying it will require more officers in the area and create more opportunity for conflict.

But police spokesman Bill Proffitt said Tuesday that Harmon will take a "fresh look" at the issue.

[Last modified August 24, 2005, 01:14:20]

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