Greenville activist refuses to file picket notice with city ahead of weekend events

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–Two events are planned this weekend in downtown Greenville to stand in solidarity with Jacob Blake, who was shot by police in Wisconsin earlier this week. The problem? The group hasn’t filed an intent to picket with the city.

“It’s just amazing that we have to do this again,” community activist Bruce Wilson said.

Wilson is planning yet another weekend of events to stand in solidarity with those facing police brutality across the country.

“To make sure that we voice our opinion about him receiving justice. It’s just sad that we continue to see these same things after George Floyd,” Wilson said.

But this time, he’s refusing the file proper paperwork with the city.

“The last two protests that I’ve had, that have been peaceful, I’ve gone through the process and I still was challenged by law enforcement,” Wilson said.

The intent to picket filing is meant to help the city plan for large gatherings.

“But as a city we need to not only protect the people who are coming to express their rights, but also other visitors who may be downtown,” city spokesperson Beth Brotherton said.

Brotherton said it takes time, money, and staffing to make sure the police and fire departments are where they need to be.

“They’re responding to traffic accidents, they’re responding to calls for domestic violence, they’re responding to other things that happen in the community,” Brotherton said.

But Wilson thinks the city is using the notice for a different reason.

“They’re really using that as a tactic to keep individuals from participating in black lives matter marches. That’s what they’re doing,” Wilson said.

He points to recent protests he’s organized as examples. At a rally against a confederate monument, Wilson says people with long guns were allowed to counter protest. And at a rally for Breonna Taylor, supporters were tickets for having backpacks.

“Yet still we keep getting challenged by law enforcement as if we’re doing something wrong,” Wilson said.

The city says policies are in place to keep people safe, and that’s exactly what the intent to picket notice is for too.

The city has a clear bag policy for gatherings and also does not allow any type of pole for flags or signs that could be used as a weapon. Signs also are limited to the size of a poster board.

The city estimates more than $200,000 have been spent in police and fire department overtime to address events like these ones so far this year.

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