Anthony Protesters, Fights Costing $4,000-A-Week, Sheriff Says
Caylee Anthony Last Seen In June
Posted 6:18 pm EDT September 30, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orange County Sheriff's Office is shelling out nearly $4,000 a week of taxpayer money to keep demonstrators in check outside the home of missing Caylee Anthony, Local 6 has learned.
Mini-mob scenes have erupted outside the Anthony home in the Chickasaw Oaks subdivision since Caylee's mother, Casey Anthony, was released from jail.
Crowds have dressed like demons and monsters and waved death signs outside the home seven days a week.
The conflict has forced Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary to set up two patrol cars at each end of the street, seven days a week.
Since July, there have been 138 calls from the Anthony's street and another 158 from the neighborhood.
Orange County taxpayers are covering thousands of dollars in overtime to keep the street and neighborhood safe.
"It's costing me $3,700 a week in overtime money and that equates to about $16,000 a month," Beary said. "Quite frankly, if we got that independent protest area, a lot of this stuff would go away."
Beary told Local 6's Mike Holfeld that a designated protest area would provide a safety net.
The homeowner association's request for a temporary injunction was denied but at the same time, Judge Cynthia MacKinnon wrote, "the court's action is not a license to protesters or the Anthony's to do what they want, where they want and whenever they want."
Still the cost of security falls back on the sheriff's office.
"We have to protect the Anthony (family)," Beary said. "We have to protect the protesters rights of free speech. But somewhere down the line, we need to also put that neighborhood back in a normal state of affairs and I'm hoping that in the future we can get a court remedy."
Beary said the seven-hour shifts have been in place for about two weeks. They will continue unit the courts have some sort of remedy.
Commissioner Blames Media
Meanwhile, George and Cindy Anthony appeared at the Orange County Commission meeting Tuesday to speak out about the protesters in their neighborhood.
They said they were hoping to find a way to not only keep themselves safe but also their neighbors.
George and Cindy Anthony's attorney, Mark NeJame, urged the mayor and other commissioner for help.
"Let's stand up to these miscreants, these law breakers," NeJame said. "These people have no regard for fellow Americans and fellow citizens."
" To this board, I would like to state that it has been more than an inconvenience," HOA attorney Karen Wonsetler said. "It has been an ongoing problem."
Wonsetler asked commissioners to consider offering grant money to pay for off-duty deputies.
But, some commissioners pointed out that the sheriff has a large enough budget to deal with the demonstrators.
"We get e-mails every day saying, 'Commissioner, help me with crime and help me with what is happening in my community.'" Commissioner Tiffany Moore Russell said.
Commissioner Fred Brummer said the media was to blame for the problems.
"These (media) are the problems," Brummer said. "The folks who employee these gentlemen are prostituting our community."
NeJame defended most of the news coverage, acknowledging that the media and the protesters are protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Commissioner Linda Stewart also proposed a curfew for the area but said the county's legal team became uncomfortable about the proposal, Local 6's Mike DeForest reported.
Caylee was last seen in June. A national search continues