Protesters with the Occupy movement, the American Civil Liberties Union and homeless advocacy groups dined on the front lawn of historic City Hall afternoon - an action that could land them a misdemeanor charge by the end of the night.
The City Council is scheduled tonight to debate a new set of laws governing the use of the City Hall grounds. The ordinance would allow protests without permits or fees during the day, but require permits for a host of actions - including noisemakers and signs.
The new law would also prohibit protests between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., bathing in fountains on City Hall property and bringing fireworks, fog machines or weapons onto the grounds.
It has been met with ire by protesters. City officials insist the new guidelines were first debated before Occupy protesters showed up at City Hall.
"Even if it's not about us, it still infringes on everyone's rights," said an Occupy protester who would only identify himself as Faygo. Behind him, his comrades munched on plates of baked beans, potato salad and cookies. Some held signs that read, "Free Speech."
"Paying for free speech, that's a concept," said John Kraintz, an advocate of the Safe Ground homeless movement, referring to the permits that would be necessary for some actions. "We have real issues and we need to have an open and frank discussion and we shouldn't have to pay for it."