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Augusta leaders may regulate hateful, offensive images in parts of the city

Augusta city councilors have begun discussing how to regulate offensive and hateful imagery in parts of the city.

The conversation began last week, and emerged out of discussions about regulating the content of murals inside the city's historic districts.

Several councilors pushed back heavily on significant regulating artwork, but several said that it is important to prohibit hate speech and other, similar content.

"For me, there are bright lines. Hate language is a bright line. Certain images, I would not want them in our city. I just wouldn't," said Councilor Eric Lind. "I think that's worth at least looking at other municipalities, saying, have they addressed things that are completely inappropriate, no doubt," Lind said.

The conversation occurred two days before a group of neo-Nazis held a roughly hour-long rally near the Blaine House. State lawmakers have denounced the presence of such hate groups in Maine and called for additional regulations.

Councilor Kevin Judkins said that regulating images and speech is a tricky issue that will require careful consideration. But he said such recent events highlight the need to get ahead of the issue.

"So the city's not in a position of playing defense. I think I would rather be in front of it and you know, be more prepared and you know, take notice of it," Judkins said.

Councilors directed the city attorney to begin drafting language to regulate images considered hateful or universally offensive.