Like it or not--and I don't--the Roanoke's Market Building Foundation Board's decision to prohibit public demonstrations in front of the high-visibility structure is difficult to argue because of a technicality in the lease. The foundation leases from the city and part of what it leases is the sidewalks surrounding the building, where it has outdoor dining.
Plowshare Peace Center has conducted silent vigils every month on the Campbell Ave. sidewalk for years, but that will have to stop now and those silent protesters are screaming "First Amendment Rights!" today, though that's not a consideration here. This one is about the right of the foundation to control the property it is leasing and the vigils don't fit in the business plan, according to chairman Doug Waters in a nicely presented story in a Roanoke daily paper this a.m.
Few would argue that the Plowshare vigils are anything but civilized, honorable and not the least disruptive, but the potential would exist for demonstrations that are not as well organized if the sidewalk was in city control, and, thus, the control of the citizens. According to the lease, though, it is not.