Orange County commissioner says public should have say in anti-picket amendment

Orange County Sheriff John Mina introduced an anti-picketing amendment at Tuesday’s Orange County Commission meeting, a move which some commissioners said took them by surprise.

"This was just so fast, I'll just say that," said Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla, "had a quick briefing, then it was here on the agenda. This is an important issue that limits first amendment rights, and there should be a work session first to give people the opportunity to hear why we're doing this."

Bonilla was reacting to the Sheriff's Office's move to keep protesters from gathering outside people's homes. 

"I just have some issue with it coming to a public hearing without a work session," Bonilla added.

Mina is calling for an ordinance similar to ones in Orlando and Winter Park that keep protesters 150 feet away from a house that they're picketing. He said Orlando passed it to keep anti-abortion activists from protesting at provider's homes. 

He realized Orange County didn't have such a law when protesters this past summer rallied at the Windermere home of former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. 

RELATED: Orange County considers limits on neighborhood protests

"We had hundreds of people target that specific residence, which caused a lot of disruption and uneasiness, traffic concerns, safety concerns for that neighborhood," Mina said.

Commissioners are set to discuss the anti-picketing measure again at their next meeting on June 22. Concerned commissioners say regardless of whether they end up approving the move or not, the public should give their input first.

"We are asking the community to get involved. Tell us your experience. Tell us what's going on," said Orange County Commissioner Mayra Uribe. "We've seen changes happen at the state level, we're doing the same at the county level, but we're not including people."

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