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zachary city hall, where city establishes public photography policies

As part of a growing trend, the City Council in Zachary, Louisiana, has approved a resolution designating which areas in city buildings are public spaces and which are restricted. The resolution responds to the growing number of First Amendment audits, where individuals exercise their rights by recording in public facilities.

Under the resolution, lobbies of all city buildings, including City Hall and police and fire stations, are designated as public spaces, ensuring citizens can exercise their rights to take photos or videos as long as they don’t impede the business at hand. The rules limit public access to certain areas occupied by public employees, ban the playing of loud music or noise that may interrupt public employees’ work, and prohibit the possession of weapons in public buildings.

City Attorney John Hopewell says that while the city acknowledges and supports the First Amendment rights of individuals, it must also protect the efficient operation of city services and the privacy of sensitive matters.

First Amendment auditors may view Zachary's and other cities' public photography policies as validating their work to solidify and formalize free press and free speech rights. However, these same policies introduce fresh challenges in understanding and respecting the newly set limits and in ensuring government transparency.

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