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November 4, 2019

Another Bureaucratic Nightmare

Jennifer Baker

After a 2-year battle with protestors in Frederick City, the Lambert Family has decided to no longer offer holiday carriage rides through the city’s Historic District.


When last we heard from the Lamberts, they were asking for clarification in the city ordinance regarding rest time and work time for their horses. The Lamberts and city police were unsure how the new ordinance would be applied.


The city attorney felt the new rules were to allow two hours of work then a 30-minute break, then two more hours of work.


The city attorney opinion did not consider the loading and unloading times involved during which the horses are resting while patrons load and unload, harness is checked and the horses offered water.


This period over two hours would provide the 30-minute break required.


The mayor and aldermen agreed, and after a four-hour debate on wheel chucks to help determine rest and work times, all parties felt the new agreement would allow the carriages to once again traverse Frederick’s historical streets from Thanksgiving to Christmas.


City police then notified the Lamberts that – while they would be present to ensure the Lamberts complied to rest times and offering water to the horses – they could not keep protestors at a safe distance from carriage operations.


Last year, while expressing their first amendment rights, protestors chased the carriages over a block, yelling at the passengers to the point children on the carriage hid under blankets.


While many think the protestors are from outside of the county, they are in fact local county residents who grew up here when Frederick was still largely a farming community.


The Lamberts were concerned because protestors were only be kept 30 to 40 feet away and only on the opposite side of the street. The holiday season would again bring protestors chasing carriages and harassing innocent customers.


City police last year were present and did not arrest the protestors who chased the carriages.


While freedom of speech is a protected right, that right does not allow a person to disrupt a business legally conducting operations as permitted by law.


If city police were already tasked with watching to ensure wheel chucks were used and buckets of water brought up to the horses’ mouths to drink, could the city possibly, without more officers on duty, watch carriage protestors to ensure the safety of the Lamberts and their customers?


In other highly vocal protests, opposing sides are kept at a larger distance to allow for freedom of speech without allowing direct confrontations to spiral out of control.


So, while the mayor and aldermen invite the public to the City of Frederick to enjoy a carriage ride, they do not feel the need to ensure the security of ride customers while patronizing a legal, family owned business.


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