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Protest Ordinance Finally Passed

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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Demonstrators planning to protest the all-male membership at Augusta National during the Masters will now face specific regulations.
 
A divided Augusta Richmond County Commission approved a new ordinance Tuesday that requires protesters to apply for a permit 20 days before a demonstration. It also specifies an appeal process if a request is denied.
 
The city's lawyer said the old ordinance, which simply gave the sheriff authority to approve or deny protest permits, could be too vague to withstand a court challenge.
 
Under the new ordinance, approved 6-5, the sheriff will approve or deny the permit on the basis of public safety.
 
The city expects the Masters in April to draw protests by the National Council of Women's Organizations and the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. The private club that hosts the Masters has never had a female member. It admitted its first black members in 1990.
 
Twice in the past month, the commission's racial division had stopped the panel from adopting the new regulations. The five white commissioners supported the new law; all five blacks opposed it, saying they believed the changes were intended to stifle civil rights.
 
Augusta Mayor Bob Young, who is white, cast the deciding vote Tuesday to break a 5-5 tie.
 
In the earlier votes, Young didn't vote because one black commissioner, Marion Williams, abstained. In a compromise involving unrelated issues, Williams agreed to vote against the regulations Tuesday, setting up a tie for the mayor to break, commissioner Bill Kuhlke said.

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