ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The Castillo de San Marcos has officially expanded the area designated for demonstrations, almost a month after they dropped charges against a local tea party member.
St. Augustine Tea Party member, David Heimbold, is now claiming a victory after he received a $225 ticket on the Fourth of July for demonstrating outside the "first amendment" zone without a permit.
"I think it's great we were surprised that they capitulated so fast and swiftly," said Heimbold.
The new area now includes most of the green surrounding the old fort.
Both Heimbold and the chairman for the St. Augustine Tea Party, Lance Thate, played a role in expanding the "first amendment" zone.
Park officials personally invited them to discuss ways to improve the area for everyone.
"All of America is free speech. I understand I can't go on private property but if I can't speak on a public right of way, then I can't speak," said Thate.
According to fort officials while freedom of speech is a constitutional right, "the courts have recognized that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect legitimate government interests such as park resources."
Heimbold and Thate say they're relieved their voices were finally heard. They're already planning their next demonstration in order to enjoy the territories they say should've been accessible to them all along.
"Tomorrow we'll be walking the property and basically handing out constitutions and do what we do," said Heimbold.
Initial charges against Heimbold were eventually dropped but he says his fight is still not over. Heimbold is still exploring litigation against the fort because he claims his civil rights were violated.