The Norman Transcript

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April 22, 2014

Anti-abortion picketers target Moore schools

MOORE — Moore City Council member Robert Krows said problems with picketers at schools have gravitated from Norman to Moore and parents are concerned.

Krows brought up the issue with an anti-abortion group protesting adjacent to Moore schools including graphic representations at Monday’s council meeting. This is the same group that has picketed at Norman schools, he said.

Moore city leaders said they have followed the issue in Norman and will watch to see if a resolution passed by Norman is effective and holds up to legal challenges.

“The position we are taking now is that they (picketers) have to get a permit,” City Manager Steve Eddy said. “At least we know when they’re coming.’

Moore also has had concerns over picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church.

Norman is looking at a possible city ordinance with a limited buffer zone around schools for any picketers. Legal staff is working to craft an ordinance that would hold up against a legal challenge.

City Attorney Jeff Bryant said the ordinance cannot single out particular groups or issues and would have to apply to any picketers within the designated buffer zone.

At least one Norman Council member, Chad Williams, has said he will oppose anything that abridges First Amendment rights. Council member Tom Kovach said multiple attorneys and the ACLU have voiced concerns.

“It’s a constitutional concern,” Kovack said. He believes the city is working on a very limited version of the originally proposed ordinance.

In other business, Moore will hire three non-union city positions using grants from Housing and Urban Development. Positions include assistant planner-grants, administrative assistant-Community Development Block Grants and accountant II.

The money is funded for five years and the positions are being hired as permanent positions, with the expectation they will be absorbed into the Moore city system elsewhere once the five-year grants lapse.

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