In the coming weeks the D.C. Council will reintroduce legislation aimed at quieting protestors in residential neighborhoods throughout the city.

The proposed bill, known as the Noise Control Protection Amendment Act of 2008, is intended to “limit noncommercial public speech to 70 decibels during the day,” a noise level that is approximately as loud as a vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer.

The bill has received mixed reactions from students such as Georgetown Solidarity Committee member Sarah David Heydemann (COL ’09). “As an individual student activist I would echo the message of the labor community and just say in order to exercise the full right to freedom of speech, you need to actually be heard first,” Heydemann said.

Last summer she attended a number of hearings on the legislation after it was introduced by Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells.

“I think it is also important to understand the roots of this bill,” Heydemann said. “I understood it as a botched response to a single group that has been abusing their sound system. The rest of D.C. shouldn’t suffer because a councilmember is trying to put restrictions on one group.”

Last July, labor organization UNITE HERE strongly opposed the proposed legislation. “You can’t limit distance and volume and expect to have free speech,” said UNITE HERE Local 25 Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Boardman. Boardman, who was barely audible, refused to turn on his microphone as a quiet demonstration for the need for volume.

“The fact is, this bill is nothing more than an attempt to silence a specific group,” Nate Mathews, ANC commissioner said.

Councilmember Jack Evans, who tabled the measure this February, plans to offer amendments to the bill. On his Web site, he states that he “understands that strong and healthy residential neighborhoods are very important to the Georgetown and Burleith area and that an appropriate balance between commercial and residential interests must be maintained.”

The next hearing for the Noise Protection Amendment Act of 2008 is scheduled to take place on May 6 at 10 a.m. in the Council Chamber.

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In the coming weeks the D.C. Council will reintroduce legislation aimed at quieting protestors in residential neighborhoods throughout the city.

The proposed bill, known as the Noise Control Protection Amendment Act of 2008, is intended to “limit noncommercial public speech to 70 decibels during the day,” a noise level that is approximately as loud as a vacuum cleaner or a hair dryer.

The bill has received mixed reactions from students such as Georgetown Solidarity Committee member Sarah David Heydemann (COL ’09). “As an individual student activist I would echo the message of the labor community and just say in order to exercise the full right to freedom of speech, you need to actually be heard first,” Heydemann said.

Last summer she attended a number of hearings on the legislation after it was introduced by Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells.

“I think it is also important to understand the roots of this bill,” Heydemann said. “I understood it as a botched response to a single group that has been abusing their sound system. The rest of D.C. shouldn’t suffer because a councilmember is trying to put restrictions on one group.”

Last July, labor organization UNITE HERE strongly opposed the proposed legislation. “You can’t limit distance and volume and expect to have free speech,” said UNITE HERE Local 25 Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Boardman. Boardman, who was barely audible, refused to turn on his microphone as a quiet demonstration for the need for volume.

“The fact is, this bill is nothing more than an attempt to silence a specific group,” Nate Mathews, ANC commissioner said.

Councilmember Jack Evans, who tabled the measure this February, plans to offer amendments to the bill. On his Web site, he states that he “understands that strong and healthy residential neighborhoods are very important to the Georgetown and Burleith area and that an appropriate balance between commercial and residential interests must be maintained.”

The next hearing for the Noise Protection Amendment Act of 2008 is scheduled to take place on May 6 at 10 a.m. in the Council Chamber.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.