HOLLAND, MI (WHTC News) - An attempt by Interfaith Congregation Chaplain Bill Freeman to “occupy” Holland City Hall was thwarted last night with his arrest. The outspoken minister had wanted to stage a sit-in similar to the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in an effort to compel City Council to reverse its decision not to include sexual preference and gender identity as protected classes in the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance. Freeman refused to leave voluntarily after the City Council meeting ended, and did post bond following his arrest.
Overshadowed by Chaplain Freeman’s actions last night was a measure approved by City Council that expands the scope of alcohol sales, consumption and possession on municipal property. The ban on booze on all city-owned land had been lifted seven years ago, but it was limited to certain areas at the time. The growth of outdoor events such as the Groove Walk since then compelled the Principal Shopping District to ask council to allow more sites to be opened up to adult beverages.
Under the new law, non-profit groups can petition City Hall for a temporary permit that would be good at sites such as inside the Civic Center, near Kollen Park’s bandshell, and the Seventh Street Parking Deck. Each case would be judged on an individual basis, with the City Manager’s office making the final determination. The ordinance would also give Council final approval on any city-sponsored activity that would include alcohol, along with allowing city employees to serve those beverages.
Last night’s Council vote was nearly unanimous, with First Ward Councilman Mike Trethewey, who had been opposed to the initial ordinance in 2004, casting the lone no this time around.