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Augusta Trying to Tighten Protesting Law

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Protesters at the Masters opposing Augusta National Golf Club's male-only membership might have to comply with stricter public demonstration laws.
 
Augusta commissioners will be asked Tuesday to approve an updated city ordinance that refines the public demonstration law on the books, said City Attorney Jim Wall.
 
Protesters from the National Council of Women's Organizations and the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/Push Coalition have said they will show up in force at the Masters, hosted by Augusta National from April 7-13.
 
The amended law requires groups of five or more people to apply for a permit from the sheriff's department 30 days in advance of the event. No timeline is given under existing law.
 
The sheriff's office will have up to 10 business days to approve or deny the protest permit, and a denial can be appealed for judicial review up to five days later.
 
Sheriff Ronnie Strength said public safety will supersede free speech, and he has declared public property surrounding Augusta National off-limits
 
``No. 1 with us is public safety ' safety for the citizens and anybody else in any location, not just there (at the National),'' he said. ``Safety has got to take precedent in anything.''