RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some Raleigh city buildings will have tightened security soon. The city voted to make changes to what is permitted inside those public buildings.
The updated rules will apply only to the following buildings:
- Raleigh Municipal Building;
- One Exchange Plaza;
- 310 West Martin Street (Dillon).
Currently, visitors sign in when they enter these buildings, but no one checks if the information provided is true. Previously, visitors did not have their bags checked, nor did they undergo any other security check before entering city buildings.
Under the new rules, magnetometer equipment will be brought into city buildings. Visitors will be subject to security ‘wanding’ of their bags as well as thorough bag checks.
“I was always surprised we don’t have that in place here,” councilmember Johnathan Melton said.
City leaders also voted to make changes to what items are permitted in their buildings.
The new rules prohibit any kind of weapon. Pocket knives with a blade of less than 4” area were previously allowed.
Currently, people going to city council meetings could bring signs as big as 36” by 36”. The updated rules will prohibit signs bigger than 18″ by 18″, too.
Several councilmembers, including Mayor Mary Ann Baldwin and councilmember David Knight, raised concerns over the content still allowed on signs brought in by the public.
Councilmember David Cox also expressed concerns over talks about possible censorship and the reduction in the signage size permitted.
“I’m astonished that we think we’re the arbiters of free speech,” Cox said.
He ultimately voted against the changes because of the reduction in signage size permitted.
“There are certain words that we can not allow and prohibit,” Knight said. “I don’t like kids reading some of the things I’ve seen on signs here.”
City attorney Robin Tatum explained their ability to censor certain speech was limited.
“What the sign says, we can’t prohibit one type of speech over another, especially political signs, because those have enhanced protection,” Tatum said.
Baldwin expressed concerns over the content of some of the signs people have brought into council chambers in the past that have intimated people when they speak during public comment portions.
“I was referring to some nastiness that occurred with one of the meetings with people behind a speaker- intimidating them, hissing, talking, whatnot,” Baldwin said.
Council has approved the changes recommended, but no changes were made regarding content allowed on signs.