Winnsboro Mayor Sonny Dumas and town councilmen continue to hear concerns from constituents over proposed amendments to Section 28 that would set stricter rules on backpacks, “private outdoor events” and prohibit block parties.
Some residents against the amendment have been sounding off on social media and contacting their council members and Dumas.
The proposed amendment is set for a public hearing and vote during the Town Council’s regular monthly meeting scheduled Nov. 18.
“We do have some people that are against these amendments, but (amendments) are designed to protect our people in Winnsboro,” Dumas said.
The introduction of the amendment affecting parties passed Oct. 21 with a 4-1 vote with Councilman Tyrone Coleman the sole nay. Councilman Rex McCarthy made the motion with a second from Councilman Jerry Johnson.
“We don’t have a problem with lawful parties,” Dumas said. “We don’t have a problem with churches, families or friends getting together and having a drink in their backyard as long as it is done lawfully. We don’t care what side of town (the party) is on.”
In the past, block parties have covered several different lots and many times public streets are blocked with people and cars creating a traffic jam in neighborhoods.
“These block parties obstruct traffic even in the case of emergency traffic,” Dumas said.
Additionally, the proposed Section 28 amendment would require permits for “private outdoor events held on private property” for crowds more than 74 people who are 12 and older. Section 28 deals with offenses and miscellaneous provisions.
“People feel like we are overstepping our bounds to require them to apply for a party permit at their premises,” Dumas said. “The reason we are considering the permits is for the police department to know where the party is located and who they need to speak to.”
Dumas goes on to say the permits are for the citizens’ safety.
“We are not asking for permits, so we may search your place,” Dumas said. “The permits will be there for the citizens’ protection. The police officers will know where the party is being held, so they may check on them.”
Adding to the problem is the sheer number of people attending some parties are more than police officers can control, Dumas said.
“With these permits, police officers will know how many people are attending the parties and will be prepared to protect the citizens” Dumas said.
For 75-100 guests, a $10 permit would be required, and for over 100 guests a $20 permit would be required and one security officer from Winnsboro Police Department or Franklin Parish Sheriff’s office, according to the proposed amendment.
If the private outdoor event permit has not been obtained by the property owner, then the event will be terminated by law enforcement officers and citations issued to the owner, according to the proposed amendment.
“Whoever violates this section shall be fined not less than $250 nor more than $500 or be imprisoned for not more than 60 days or both,” the proposed amendment said.
The proposed amendment also establishes a midnight curfew for adults and 11 p.m. for juveniles.
A separate proposed ordinance would prohibit backpacks during certain times.
The introduction prohibiting certain backpacks passed with a 3-2 vote with Councilman Keith Berry and Coleman voting against the amendment.
“The wearing of backpacks within the city limits of the Town of Winnsboro is prohibited unless school is in session and the backpack is clear or mesh so that the contents are visible,” the proposed amendment said.
Violators will be fined no less than $25 or more than $100.
The proposed amended ordinances have been dubbed the “Bush Ordinances” after Waneshia Bush’s death. Bush, 20, an honor student at Grambling State University, was killed after being struck by a stray bullet while attending what has been described as a block party near Blanson and Smith streets at approximately 1 a.m. July 21.
“We need to look out for each other,” Dumas said. “Again, this is for our protection.”