St. Augustine resident Ed Slavin was issued a trespass warning Wednesday, prohibiting him from City Hall unless he has an appointment or is attending a public meeting.
The St. Augustine Police Department is investigating complaints against Slavin from city employees and others “in which Mr. Slavin’s pattern of behavior was deemed threatening to the safety of city employees and tenants of the facility and a safe work environment at City Hall/The Lightner Building,” according to city documents.
City Manager John Regan took action on the do not trespass notice because of the amount and nature of complaints, even though the investigation is ongoing.
Slavin said Wednesday he planned to contact attorneys and will be contacting other elected officials.
“We are not made to feel welcome in City Hall, and this illegal no trespass order proves it,” Slavin said.
He said he believes city officials are angry with him.
“It’s retaliation for First Amendment protected activity,” he said. “It’s a city administration that’s angry that Joe Boles was defeated, and that I have successfully worked with other activists to elect a new mayor.”
Slavin said he had a disagreement on Monday with city officials because he complained there were not enough chairs before the City Commission’s reorganizational meeting. He was also approached by a police officer during his public comment at a planning and zoning meeting Tuesday after back and forth between some board members over the relevance of his comments.
He spoke about the resignation of Mark Knight, former planning and building department director, and how the public should have more details about Knight’s exit from the job — and Slavin objected to Knight speaking for an applicant without an attorney present.
His speaking time ran out during the disagreement.
The six-month trespass order is for private offices, office areas for city employees on the second, third and fourth floors of City Hall at 75 King St., and any areas closed to the public or occupied by a tenant, according to a letter from Regan to Slavin. The order does not apply to commission chambers while the commission is in session or during publicly noticed meetings and hearings.
“It is not intended to keep you from conducting legitimate business with the city,” the letter states. “You are welcome to contact staff members in City Hall by phone or email. If they cannot assist you in that manner, an appointment can be prearranged as necessary.”
Officers are investigating the complaints, said St. Augustine Police Chief Loran Lueders.
Lueders was with Regan when he delivered the order to Slavin at his home Wednesday morning. Any law enforcement officer could have been present, but Lueders said the city manager asked him to be present because of his knowledge of the case.
If Slavin returns to City Hall in violation of the order he could be subject to arrest.
Lueders declined to provide details about the investigation because it is an active case.
He said Slavin will still be able to conduct legitimate business with the city and officials are making sure to preserve his First Amendment rights to government.
“Obviously this is not something that’s common,” Lueders said. “Our employee safety has to be paramount in our concerns.”