The Florida Capitol building may be owned by the people of Florida, but a new rule means the people of Florida may not always have access to it.
Under the new rule, which was just approved by Gov. Rick Scott and GOP leaders, anyone in the Capitol after 5 p.m. who doesn't work there or isn't a guest of someone who does will have to leave. In addition, no one is allowed to stay overnight or sleep in a publicly accessible part of the building.
Anyone who doesn't leave after being told to do so by Capitol police is subject to arrest on trespassing charges.
The new rule is prompted by the protest over the summer by the so-called Dream Defenders, who camped out outside the governor's office for a full month. The Dream Defenders staged the month-long protest after George Zimmerman was acquitted on murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin.
Dream Defenders political director Ciara Taylor criticized the decision.
"The rights to peaceful public assembly, public dissent and free speech are central to the Constitutions of both the state of Florida and the U.S.," she said in an email statement. "These limitations on the public's ability to interact with their elected officials are an unnecessary and burdensome barrier to civic participation."
Civil liberty advocates are already taking issue with the rule, arguing it could suppress citizens' rights to free speech. For that reason, the rule could be challenged in court.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.