Stoughton protests against police brutality

Hundreds of protesters raise their fist in solidarity against police brutality at a protest on Saturday, June 6.

Black Lives Matter protest organizers will have to wait until June 24 to receive an amplified noise permit after downtown businesses and residents complained about the use of electronic megaphones near City Hall.

Due to the length and time frame of the protest, the city’s Public Safety committee unanimously agreed Wednesday, June 17, to postpone granting organizers that permission until its Wednesday, June 24, meeting. Protest organizers are invited to the June 24 meeting to discuss their application.

After Stoughton Police Department received at least four noise complaints including business owners who are concerned their outdoor diners won’t have a pleasant experience, SPD issued a stop order in violation of the noise ordinance of the city, which Police Chief Greg Leck described as a “reasonableness” standard and said is based on complaint.

Dylan Bennett, protest organizer, then applied for a special event permit through the Public Safety committee. He requested use of the electronic amplified megaphone from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, to Friday, July 10, at 216 E. Main St.

Normally, special events permits that do not require alcohol can be reviewed by the Public Works Director and the police chief alone, however, Leck said he did not feel comfortable approving or denying the application without input from other public officials on the Public Safety Committee.

Bennett told the Hub a protest is expected to have noise but he is willing to meeting with public officials to discuss how to move forward. But as of Monday, June 22, Bennett said he had not heard from the committee.

Alder Greg Jenson (Dist. 3) said he is having a tough time balancing the protesters rights and business owners concerns.

“I certainly support what they are trying to do but we also have to be very conscious of our downtown businesses, they were off the street for months,” he said.

Mayor Tim Swadley said he does support the protests but said the amplified noise hurts the protesters’ cause.

“I think it creates annoyance for people and I pretty much told them as much,” Swadley said. “Especially when they are standing up here by the building with it, especially outside the office where we are trying to conduct business.”

The protests have been going on each day since Friday, May 29, four days after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The protests have varied in numbers from a couple people to hundreds marching through downtown.

Alder Jean Ligocki (D-2) said she doesn’t want it to appear like “comfortable white people (are) making this kind of decision” and so would prefer a dialogue with the organizers before the committee comes to the best decision.

Contact Mackenzie Krumme at mackenzie.krumme@wcinet.com.