Portsmouth considers banning violent hate groups from protesting

Portsmouth City Council members talked for the first time about a proposal to ban hate groups from protesting in the city.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- Portsmouth City Councilman Dr. Mark Whitaker wanted to clear the record during a Monday night work session that he did not send out an email wanting to pass a law to keep racist groups from protesting in Portsmouth.

"I did not say that we need to pass an ordinance to keep racist organizations from protesting in the city, I never said that," stated Whitaker.

Councilman Whitaker said he was not trying to take away anyone's First Amendment Right, "These groups have a right to march, they have the right to free speech they do not have the right to bring harm to any of our citizens," stated Whitaker. 

However, the councilman does want to stop groups from getting permits if they have a violent reputation.

"How can we limit permits in my email to groups that have a pattern a history of violence and so that goes beyond free speech," asked Whitaker.

Councilman Nathan Clark did express concerns about the possibility of the city being sued for not allowing groups to protest.

"Unfortunately I think the freedom of speech is still going to be there because everybody has the the right to peacefully demonstrate it doesn't matter what the group is when they cross that line is where the problem comes from," said Clark.

The council ended the work session by agreeing that members will show solidarity at Tuesday night's meeting by wearing purple ribbons and presenting a resolution that will state Portsmouth does not want hate groups in the city.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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