Security guards' handling of protest OK, fair officals say

September 3, 2010 

Alaska State Fair officials have reviewed an Aug. 26 incident in which a man waving a sign clashed with security guards and was forced to the ground, and say the guards acted appropriately.

The incident was caught on video and posted on a range of websites, including YouTube, and ignited a debate on free speech.

The sign waver, Sidney Hill, 52, was arrested and charged with assault, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief.

Fair managers released a statement Friday saying that the fairgrounds are private property and the Alaska State Fair has a right to regulate conduct on the property. Hill violated Alaska State Fair policy by demonstrating in a plaza rather than a booth and by disrupting other people, a fair spokesman said.

He was waving his sign, being loud and interfering with a show taking place nearby, and interfering with people's ability to hear the show, the fair management's statement said.

An Anchorage woman who was there said he was just walking around, though, and the person identified as the photographer of the YouTube video also said Hill was peaceful until security personnel came after him.

During the course of the incident, security personnel also discovered that Hill had a gun, another violation of fair policy, according to the fair management statement.

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