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Burk Says Protests Will be Lawful

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The woman leading the movement for admission of a female member to the Augusta National Golf Club promises that any protest during The Masters will be lawful.
 
Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, said she had a cordial conversation with Sheriff Ronnie Strength about a possible protest at the club where the golf major will be played next April.
 
If she organizes a demonstration against Augusta's all-male membership, she believes she will comply with a local law and apply for a permit.
 
Strength confirmed that he and Burk spoke on the phone on Monday, but he would not discuss their conversation, The Augusta Chronicle reported Friday.
 
Hootie Johnson, chairman of the private golf club, has refused demands from the women's council to admit a female member by this year's Masters. That has led to threats of protests by the council and by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
 
Burk said she and Strength talked about public safety if protests did materialize.
 
``He was quite cordial,'' she told the newspaper.
 
On Tuesday, the Augusta Commission voted to amend the city's protest ordinances so local laws can hold up in court. The changes require, in part, that demonstrators apply for a permit to protest 20 days in advance.
 
The new laws also provide for a judicial review if a permit is denied.
 
Burk said she still expects Augusta National to admit its first female member.
 
``I think if nothing changes within the club, and I hope that something will, it's quite likely that we will be there,'' she said.
 
Burk has opposed the changing of the protest laws.
 
``If the ordinance was a problem ' and it's my understanding it has been in place for several years ' the notion that it somehow needs changing on a semi-emergency basis is interesting, and can only be related to the potential for protest at the Masters,'' she said.
 
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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