After two men were arrested Monday while protesting on Annapolis sidewalks, their organization is planning a much larger protest Monday near the State House.
Kevin and Jeff Hulbert were arrested by Maryland Capitol Police Monday night after they were asked to leave the sidewalk. They were cited with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace.
The two are part of The Patriot Picket, a gun rights group that protests on Monday nights while the General Assembly is in session. They protest while holding pro-gun signs and use the sidewalk to avoid having to acquire a permit for Lawyer’s Mall.
There were about eight or nine people there Monday night, said co-founder Paul Brockman. Now his group hopes to have about 100 next week.
“They told us, ‘the rules have changed and you can’t be on the public sidewalk,’ ” Brockman said.
The Department of General Services released a statement after the incident, saying the group was asked to move Lawyer’s Mall away from the right of way on the sidewalk.
“Out of a concern for public safety, and in an abundance of caution due to two pedestrians being struck by vehicles in the last year, and nearly a half dozen reported pedestrians complaints concerning vehicles failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, the demonstrating group was asked to relocate to Lawyers Mall,” department spokesman Nick Cavey wrote in a statement.
“After three requests to move their location to allow for pedestrians to freely use the sidewalk, crosswalks and to reduce conditions for distracted vehicle operators approaching the intersection, two individuals declined and were subsequently arrested for Criminal Law Article 10-201 Disorderly Conduct, Disturbance or the Public Peace, Nuisances.”
Brockman disputed part of that statement, saying they were not directed to Lawyer’s Mall.
Public sidewalks are considered a public forum, meaning that protest activities are allowed there without permit.
But the state does have some regulations in place when protesting on sidewalks. Groups are asked to leave room for passers-by and “should not block the flow of pedestrian traffic,” according to a document titled “Demonstration on Public Property” that is available on the Maryland Capitol Police’s website.