BEST BAD NEW LAW

City of Miami Protest Ordinance

This past November the Miami City Commission passed a vaguely worded, overreaching bit of paranoid legislation that was an embarrassment. Worried about protesters arriving for the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit, the commission, at the police department's urging, passed a law that would make it a crime to possess a variety of innocuous items. They tried to be specific at first -- marbles, water balloons, stilts -- but then they just gave up and stated: "No person may carry or possess ... any materials or substances or pieces of hard materials or substances that are capable of being thrown or projected." Originally the city hall brain trust wanted to have the law apply to a single event of specific duration, but that effort was thwarted when someone pointed out the obvious: It was unconstitutional. So commissioners made it applicable 24-7. King Mango Strut, Miami Book Fair International, you name it -- all were subject to the same Draconian prohibitions. It was a stupid law, they were told it was a stupid law, and eventually they agreed it was stupid. Three months after enacting it, city commissioners repealed it.

 
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