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Day of Heckling on Plaza Thrusts Issues to Forefront

Day of Heckling on Plaza Thrusts Issues to Forefront

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View Real Video of Main Street Heckling StoryThe issue of free speech came to a boiling point on the Main Street plaza today when protesters heckled wedding parties.

Today's encounter on the plaza caused the mayor to rethink his own time, place and manner restrictions which he proposed as a solution to this problem.

It now appears that even he believes some have pushed the idea of free speech too far.

They call themselves Bible believers, with giant placards in hand and shouting, sometimes through bullhorns. They drew plenty of attention from passersby and wedding parties.

A Salt Lake City police officer tried to get them to move just 20 feet down the walkway so that brides and grooms could take pictures with the temple behind them. They refused to leave.

"If you try to do anything to infringe on a person's First Amendment rights ... and my attorneys don't only like to go after the police department, they like to go after your pensions," a protester tells the officer.

"Common decency, you don't have it," a man on the street tells the protester.

"I'm not moving. That's right, I'm not moving," he responds.

"I'm not angry, you know, you have to go with the flow. But it's too bad, it's too bad. I'm sure they all have daughters, and someday would like to have their pictures taken, too. But you know, life goes on," says Anne Burt, the mother of a bride on the plaza today.

Then a Latter-day Saint seminary choir in the downtown area that was scheduled to perform added their voices to counter the screams of the street preachers.

Tonight Mayor Anderson said he received a letter from the ACLU saying protesters must be allowed along the full length of the easement. He saw what happened this morning and changed his mind about time, place and manner restrictions.

"There were some very obnoxious, loud people yelling obscenities apparently disrupting a wedding party. That is so counter to anything that anybody intended on this plaza, and if it takes that to make these time, place and manner restrictions work, then we ought to just take the whole proposal off the table and look at something else," Anderson says.

The mayor is now supporting the proposal that he made yesterday with the Alliance for Unity.

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