City Hall tightens security after protest leaves more than $20K in damage

The protest at City Hall on Friday, which resulted in dozens of arrests and more than $20,000 in damage, has not led to the firing of police Chief Greg Suhr as many of its participants wanted.

But the raucous demonstration did prompt a new security regime at City Hall.

The increased security measures require any employees entering the building to present identification after 8 p.m. or before 8 a.m. Additionally, anyone entering after 5 p.m. must tell sheriff’s deputies where they are going.

Friday’s protest escalated as it wore on into the night, prompting 33 arrests and damage primarily to the Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett side of City Hall, which faces Polk Street. The building’s front glass door window was broken and a metal detector was ripped from the ground to prop open the front door, city officials said.

The Goodlett entrance remained closed Thursday. Visitors and employees were told to use Grove, McAllister and Van Ness entrances instead.

“I wouldn’t say the protest [is] the only reason why we are looking at these procedural changes,” said Bill Barnes, a spokesperson for the city administrator’s office. “We constantly reevaluate policies.”

But he added that complaints from employees about the protest and ongoing security concerns played a role in the changes.

The City is also reiterating its existing policies regarding safety measures at City Hall, including that city employees should always carry their employee ID cards; bags and packages will be checked at the entrances; and offices should remain locked when vacant.

Some of those practices will be strengthened and enforced more often as well. Previously, large packages were searched manually, but now they will all go through an X-Ray machine, for instance.

“The building has always been a place that people come [to] all the time and there has been safety concerns,” Barnes said. “We heard from employees in the building that they wanted it tightened.”

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