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Florida town fines protesters who use noisy megaphones

By AP | Nov 23, 2020

NEW PORT RICHEY (AP) — A Florida town has fined people involved in recent racial justice protests thousands of dollars for using megaphones police say violate a local noise ordinance.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that officials in New Port Richey have issued 14 citations that total about $4,700 to at least five protesters. Black Lives Matter activist Christina Boneta said she was fined more than $2,500 for using her megaphone and once arrested for refusing to sign a citation.

New Port Richey has a strict noise ordinance that was enacted in 2017 to crack down on loud downtown bars and clubs. It gives police officers broad discretion to decide when a citation is issued.

The protesters have stopped using megaphones but they still gather once or twice a week to spread a message of racial justice and protest police killings of Black people. Many are fighting the noise citations in court.

Police and city officials declined comment. New Port Richey is about 24 miles (38 kilometers) north of Clearwater.