By Meredith Raney
Published April 19, 2000
MELBOURNE – The Brevard County Commission voted 4-1 (Helen Voltz dissenting) Tuesday night, April 18, 2000, to spend more of the taxpayers money to move a fence to keep pro-lifers away from the abortion clinic at Suntree Plaza. The official reason given was to reduce liability for the county. The actual reason was to keep pro-lifer counselors away from the abortion clinic. Sheriff Williams expressed no security concerns in his letter on the issue to Jack Parker, County Public Safety Officer, dated March 1, 2000. Letter is enclosed below.
In December of 1999, the county built a fence between the abortion clinic and Fire Station 80 next door at a cost of $4,000 to “protect the fire department” even though the fence is much closer to two sides of the abortion clinic than it is to the fire department. Click here for story. The county left a little notch in the fence to accommodate parking for about 8-10 cars next to the southeast corner of Suntree Plaza. This area is on fire department property and has been traditionally used for public parking for at least 6 years according to local residents.
The $4,000 fence was installed in such a way to preserve that traditional public parking area and still protect the fire department. All was well for about two months until two pro-life counselors parked in that area to provide love and help to those desperate enough to pay to have their own children killed at the abortion clinic. These counselors were singled out and threatened with arrest by the Sheriff’s department for trespassing while several other cars were allowed to be there with no threat of arrest.
When challenged with the constitutional problem of excluding certain people from a public place while allowing other people there, the county decided to preclude everyone from being there by modifying the fence. This latest modification changes nothing regarding protection of the fire department, it was only done as a result of pro-lifers being in the area. Cheap yellow tape and “no parking” signs were not good enough, even though they had been working since mid-February. According to Jack Parker, Public Safety Officer, it will cost $390 more of the taxpayers’ money to move the fence.
This money is being spent strictly to keep pro-lifers away. The general public had been using that area for at least 6 years with no problems, no complaints, and no liability concerns until pro-lifer counselors tried to use the area.
So much for an unbiased county commission.
Enclosure: Letter from Sheriff Williams (Emphasis added.)
Sheriff Philip B. Williams
BREVARD COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
March 1, 2000
Mr. Jack Parker
Brevard County Public Safety Department
1040 S. Florida Avenue
Rockledge, FL 32955
RE: Fencing Around County Fire Property in Suntree
Dear Mr. Parker,
Based upon an inquiry by Brevard County Fire Rescue last year the opinion of the Office of the Sheriff was sought regarding a security fence. The security fence was suggested as the least restrictive means to separate protestors and county employees. Commander Crosby of the West Precinct at my direction was asked to provide you with a security assessment. Other members of the Sheriff’s Office were consulted by Commander Crosby and that recommendation was made.
The recommendation was that if Brevard County Fire Rescue was concerned about the security of their employees and their facility a straight chain link fence would be most appropriate. The county chose to design a fence in a different configuration than was originally suggested. This action by those who configured the fence has created an ambiguity as to the use of the section commonly known as “the enclave”. The property in contention is controlled solely by the Brevard County Commission and it’s use and configuration to include fences and the like is in the sole discretion of the county.
If you have any further questions or need further explanation feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.
PHILIP B. WILLIAMS (signed)
Sheriff of Brevard County
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