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Clearwater Police recommends 'buffer zone' at local abortion clinic amid routine, volatile protests

On Thursday, Clearwater City Council is set to vote on the ordinance which would create a 5-foot buffer zone from the clinic's driveway.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Clearwater Police Department is asking the city council to pass an ordinance in order to increase safety at a local abortion clinic.

Police Chief Daniel Slaughter went before the city council during a workshop on Monday to show councilmembers body-cam video of the volatile situation outside the clinic on Saturday and asked them to take action.

The main issue at Bread and Roses Woman's Health Center, according to Slaughter, is protesters approaching cars as they go in and out of the driveway, knocking on windows and putting flyers in open windows.

Now, he suggests passing a city ordinance that would create a buffer zone that would forbid people from passing 5 feet beyond the driveway's edge.

"The protest activities have become more escalated over the past several months and it's creating an unsafe situation when the vehicles enter and leave the location," Slaughter told councilmembers. "Case law supports this action when there is a substantial government interest, which we believe there is."

The proposed ordinance has already seen resistance at previous city council meetings. 

"Clearwater should be known for our beaches and not for restricting freedoms or religion," one man against the ordinance said. 

Clearwater City Council is set to vote on the controversial ordinance Thursday, with the city's mayor anticipating passion from people for and against it. 

"I want to remind everyone who's here that we are going to keep this civil, otherwise I will kick people out of this chamber," Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said.

In the coming months, Clearwater City Council is also tackling a city-wide noise ordinance. Clinics like Bread and Roses would be included in that. 

If the ordinance passes, crossing that boundary would be a Class 3 violation resulting in a $130 fine. 

We reached out to the Bread and Roses management for comment on the proposed ordinance on Monday afternoon and have not heard back. 

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