BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - There are new guidelines to follow for rallies, protests, and public demonstrations in Bladen County.
The board of commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance brought forth by Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker on Monday night. The ordinance came as a direct result of a protest that got out of hand at the Smithfield Foods Plant in Tar Heel last February.
Twelve animal rights protesters were arrested during that incident. A judge eventually dismissed those charges.
“I felt we had to get something in concrete, something in writing so everybody will know the rules to abide by," McVicker said. "This ordinance is for the protection of the law enforcement as well as the people who are demonstrating and the public.”
The new ordinance requires protesters to be at least 25 feet away from an intersection. McVicker said the reason for the updated guidelines is because protesters impeded traffic at their last protest.
Demonstrators will also be required to give the sheriff’s office 72 hours notice, and a time frame of when they plan to demonstrate. They will also have to estimate how many people they expect to show up.
The animal rights protesters plan to come back to Smithfield next month, and McVicker says he hopes the new regulations will lead to a peaceful demonstration.
“My dream is that nobody will get arrested,” McVicker said. "That’s what I’d like to see. Let’s go up there, let them do what they have the right to do, do it in a peaceful way. I don’t want anybody hurt, don’t want anybody arrested. They could say their piece and let’s move on down the road.”