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Castillo de San Marcos drops case against tea party member

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Updated: 7/15/2013 6:37 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Long-time tea party member David Heimbold was outraged after receiving a $225 citation for not having a permit to demonstrate on the property at the Castillo de San Marcos.

Just three days after Action News reported the incident, the fort dropped the case against Heimbold.

"I would like to inform you that the violation you have received has been voided," said Heimbold as he read aloud from the letter he received from park officials.

In the letter, the fort's Chief Ranger Kimberly Mayo said that because of this matter they're re-evaluating their free speech zone policy in order to expand the designated area.

"That's how we make changes. People bring it to our attention, we sit down and evaluate it and we make changes for the good of everyone," said Mayo.

Currently, less than 25 people can demonstrate without a permit on a patch of grass in front of the fort. Heimbold was cited as he was walking in the north lawn while carrying a sign that read, "Tea Party Lives On-4-U".

"Free speech is every square inch of the United States and when these regulations for free speech zones were made it was wrong," said Heimbold.

The fort said  that while the citation was lawfully issued, it was bad timing to issue the ticket on the Fourth of July.

"The First Amendment zone was impacted with visitors who were here to see the Fourth of July celebration so that area wasn't entirely free for this group to go to," said Mayo.

Heimbold said he's relieved he won't have to pay the fine but will continue to work to make sure this policy is changed.

"I think they're using wisdom and we've always gotten along good with the people at the fort and we plan on doing the same," said Heimbold.

There is no time line yet of when changes will take effect. Mayo said they're taking the time to hear everyone's feed back first.

Free speech zones at national parks were established in 2010 after an appellate court case involving Mount Rush more.

According to the Castillo de San Marcos, every park is entitled to review their own rules and amend them if they need to.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

RiverRat - 7/16/2013 7:43 AM
1 Vote
These wackos do nothing to advance the conservative platform for smaller more efficient and less intrusive government. If anything they hurt the cause and look silly in the process.

Truthseeker - 7/16/2013 4:46 AM
0 Votes
WHat the park ranger is really saying is that the park service screwed up but doesn't have the fortitude to admit it.
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