Peace on Main Street

Peace on Main Street

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Richard Piatt ReportingPolice officers were not needed on Salt Lake City's Main Street plaza today. The first full day of Church control of the plaza has almost come and gone without disruptions and no sign of the vocal street preachers.

It's been peaceful on the plaza with no police presence required so far. And that's just the way Church officials want to keep it, even though it can now, legally control what goes on here.

On the plaza today were lots of people -- picture-takers, tourists, brides and grooms and their families. A woman sat and read a book to pass the time. Hundreds of people used the plaza as a short cut. There was harmony and a harmonica. It was so quiet you could hear the waterfalls on each end.

It was just how the Bishop family thought it might be when they planned a trip here with their young daughter.

Bryan Bishop, Plaza Visitor: "It's nice, it's beautiful. It's nice and peaceful, it's how it should be."

And how it should stay, according to Church officials. But specific rules on behavior are limited to smoking, biking and skateboarding right now. Grey areas like pets in the plaza and dipping hands in the reflecting pool probably won't spark much of a fuss.

One thing will however. Loud, anti-LDS street preachers have a knack for exercising their free speech rights and offending people at the same time.

Ron Romrell, Plaza Visitor Yesterday: “A person should be allowed to come to a place like this, have peace and tranquility and not be bombarded by anything like that.”

This week the Church took control of access and behavior on its private property. But the Church prefers to handle disruptions on a case-by-case basis, rather than set down rules. Offenders will first be asked to leave, then cited, then if necessary removed by police. Church security will constantly monitor the plaza.

But as of now a legal challenge to that authority is still uncertain. ACLU officials say they're still bothered by the sale of a public street and the free speech and access rights that went along with it.

A lot of people were expecting the street preachers to push Church security to call the police on them today. It never happened, but still could some time later.

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