It has been just about a year since Harrisonburg, VA implemented a bananas new noise ordinance that is seemingly designed to crush the students of James Madison University. While the ordinance is filled with many small legal details, the crucial points are as follows, via The Breeze:
The ordinance being questioned by many JMU students went into effect in August of last year and states that mass social gatherings exceeding 100 people must be registered 15 days in advance with the city. It also states that noise levels exceeding 55 decibels at night and 65 decibels during the day is cause for action by law enforcement.
Here’s a quick little breakdown to save you a google search: Comparative examples of noise at 60dB are “Conversation in restaurant, office, background music. Air conditioning unit at 100 feet.”
So yes, Harrisonburg wants its residents to be heard less than an air conditioning unit 100 feet away from them. This policy essentially gives police officers the grounds to bust up any gathering of ten or more people and give out citations at their discretion for minimal cause.
To combat this insane, fascist ordinance, JMU student Ryan Kerwick created a petition on change.org campaigning for the city to revisit the unreasonable policies put into place last August. Good on ya, Ryan. The petition has been rapidly building up momentum and is looking for 5,000 signatures. While I am not entirely sure how change.org works and cannot check because I’m too busy doing literally anything else, you can find his petition here.
James Madison is the crown jewel of Harrisonburg. It is hard to imagine that this ordinance is designed to target anyone besides JMU students. But the city has not always had the most positive relationship with the university. I was once at Relay for Life, an event designed to go all night in its efforts to raise money for the American Cancer Society, when the police showed up and said the event runners could no longer use the microphones or loud speakers. This happened before midnight, at an event that had been planned all year, and this was before the new noise ordinance even existed.
Take a look at the petition, encourage others to get involved with things like this, and try to snuff out absurd ordinances like this before the noise Gestapo come for you, too..
[via The Breeze]
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