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Augusta Sheriff Open to Front-Gate Protest

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Sheriff Ronald Strength said Friday he hasn't ruled out allowing protests at the front of Augusta National Golf Club during the Masters, though he still doesn't like the idea.
Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, is seeking a permit to post 24 protesters on either side of the gate to Magnolia Lane during the Masters third round April 12.
Burk, who plans to demonstrate against Augusta National's all-male membership, also wants permission for 200 additional protesters to stand along Washington Road across the street from the club.
Strength, who has authority over protests of more than five people, reiterated Friday that allowing demonstrations on Washington Road, the main thoroughfare for Masters vistors, could pose a safety hazard.
'It's very dangerous with the thousands and thousands of people we have on one sidewalk,' Strength told The Associated Press. 'But we have not slammed the door on anything.'
Strength said his deputies will take a second look at the club gate area early next week before replying to Burk.
'We're going to be open-minded and make the best decisions based on public safety.'
The sheriff said he's also reviewing every protest request with Jim Wall, the attorney for Augusta-Richmond County. They met Friday to discuss Burk's request and nine others, but made no final decisions, he said.
Burk, who is working with the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, sent the sheriff a letter along with her permit request saying she would file suit if they could not agree on a protest site.
'We think it's a very reasonable request and we hope the sheriff will view it the same way,' Burk said.
Related Links
  • The Augusta National Controversy Chronology