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Free Speech Plaza Curfew to Continue

EUGENE, Ore. — The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted on restrictions to 24-hour protesting at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza. Two weeks ago, the board voted on an emergency closure because of health concerns.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to continue the nighttime curfew, which runs from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. That curfew will be in place until 5 p.m. October 18, when the permanent ordinance goes into effect. That permanent ordinance will also block protesters from being in the plaza during those same nighttime hours.

Commissioners say this allows time for residents to compile signatures to put something on the ballot to oppose the nighttime closure. This basically allows more time for the public to comment on what was discussed two weeks ago.

“What it does is it codifies our code, and I think overall if you look at the tradition of the Wayne Morse Plaza–the Free Speech Plaza–it would be a rare occasion to see people past 11 p.m. anyway,” said Sid Leiken, Lane County commissioner.

The county board also asked staff to look at special circumstances when permitting would be allowed for those hours; for instance, if someone wanted to hold a nighttime vigil. It would just give the county board a little bit of flexibility if someone came to them with special circumstances.

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