An ordinance that would ban overnight camping at small spaces throughout Jefferson County will be introduced in the Louisville Metro Council Thursday.
Mayor Greg Fischer proposed the ordinance this week after Occupy Louisville demonstrators spent months at Founder’s Square in response to several movements that mirrored Occupy Wall Street. The city evicted demonstrators in April but because the space is not an official city park, there is still no law prohibiting overnight camping. Council members say an ordinance banning overnight camping in small city spaces will close the regulatory loophole exposed by Occupy Louisville.
The new ordinance would ban camping in green and open areas smaller than three acres.
Bill sponsors Rick Blackwell and Madonna Flood both told WFPL they support demonstrators’ rights to protest, but that small spaces like Founder’s Square pose a health and safety risk.
“This has nothing to do with Occupy Louisville. They can protest where ever they see fit. I support them,” said Flood.
Blackwell said while he supports demonstrators’ right to protest, Occupy Louisville left over $7,000 in damage to the area, including fees for electricity and re-sodding the park.
“It’s basically about infrastructure, you don’t have the infrastructure to allow people to spend the night and camp there,” said Blackwell.
It’s unclear if the ordinance will close the door on all future overnight protests and Blackwell said he expects the council to discuss those issues Thursday.
“I’m sure it will come up in the discussions: is there a time when that overnight protest is necessary for whatever the cause might be?” he said.
Both council members said they believed there is support for the ordinance.
Occupy Louisville demonstrators left Founder’s Square willingly after the city decided to evict the group, saying many members of the encampment were homeless.