UPDATE: This ordinance was defeated by civic engagement in Orange County.

In June, citizens delayed our Board of County Commissioners from passing an ordinance that would restrict free speech in Orange County. But only temporarily. On Monday, October 3, this matter will be on the agenda and the commissioners will attempt to pass the ordinance. This is our chance to stop them.

John F. Kennedy - 1963, Third State of the Union Address

Yes, "tyranny" sounds extreme. Until you read the ordinance our BOCC is attempting to pass.

Here is what the publicly available draft of the ordinance says:

The activity or circumstance whereby one or more persons gather for a common purpose is prohibited on School Property, or on public sidewalks or public ways, or on private property by persons other than the property owner or the property owner's immediate family, within [an undetermined number of] feet of School Property, or within [an undetermined number of] feet of, Playgrounds. Violators of this section shall be immediately deemed to be trespassing.

Sec. 24- 5. - Regulating Picketing

If passed, this ordinance will deem any single person, or group of people, who are found to be promoting or objecting to a policy, issue, or action, at or near a school or playground (including on private property) as criminal trespassers:

  • Two parents gather to discuss a fundraiser: trespassing.
  • A parent comes to school to speak with a teacher or principal about a concern for their child: trespassing
  • A few neighbors who live near a school come together for a barbecue: trespassing
  • A family gathering for a Fourth of July celebration at a local park that has a playground: trespassing.

Our First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

By some twisted combination of ignorance and conceit, our Board of County Commissioners has been emboldened to make a law that will:

  • Abridge freedom of speech.
  • Abridge our right to assemble.

Many citizens in our county are well aware of the impetus for this ordinance. This ordinance was driven solely by the previous School Board, which had worked consistently and systematically for years to silence opposition to their policies and actions. (More on this subject will be published here, and presented to the board of commissioners, over the next few days.)

For now, I hope citizens in Orange County will take this threat seriously. This is ordinance will be a broad and sweeping violation of our constitutional rights. 


Let's take action:

I urge everyone, once again, to engage the BOCC on this issue:


The Ordinance

Read the full text of the ordinance here.

You can view this information on the Orange County portal here.