Category: News

Why Are Political Tents No Longer Allowed at Downtown Friday?

October 12, 2022

Indian River News in late August 2022 had the opportunity to sit and talk with some of the board members of Downtown Friday to discuss why political tents were no longer allowed at Downtown Friday. The board members we spoke to are Susan Grimis and Joe Coakley. Coakley previously served as Indian River County’s State Committeeman for the Republican Executive Committee. He currently runs an organization called the Vero Institute for American Liberty.

Indian River News was told by Grimis and Coakley the initial plan by the Downtown Friday organization was to cease having political tents at their monthly event after the August 2022 Election.

The rules for candidates at Downtown Friday were the following:

  • No political items where the event was going on

  • Signs were allowed to be with the booths

  • No canvasing or signs outside of tents

  • Candidates had to stay at their tents

Literature about the candidates cannot be distributed at other tents.

The belief of the Downtown Friday organizers is that if someone wants to hear about a candidate, the person should go to the candidate’s tent.

Downtown Friday started to allow political candidates when the candidates themselves started asking for booths at Downtown Friday’s monthly event.

The Downtown Friday’s board at the time discussed what to do regarding political candidates. The Downtown Friday board was split on whether or not to allow political candidates to have booths. The board decided to give the candidates a chance and see how it would go.

No longer allowing political booths after the August 2022 election was always a part of the Downtown Friday organization’s plan. However, there were two candidates that did not follow the rules set out by the Downtown Friday Organization. Grimis and Coakley declined to name the candidates. These two candidates were a contributing reason for not allowing political booths at Downtown Friday.

The Downtown Friday organization did not want to risk their tax exempt status by only banning the two candidates that broke the rules. They said they want to keep their organization A-Political.

There were also complaints from two merchants at Downtown Friday about candidates taking people from their tents. The complaints were a contributing factor to not allowing candidates at Downtown Friday.

It’s worth noting the initial reason why the Republican Executive Committee and Democratic Executive Committee booths were at Downtown Friday was to register voters.

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