Mark Phillips, the North Flagler resident at the center of a tense moment at a May meeting of the Palm Coast City Council, when he aggressively rushed the dais toward then-Mayor Milissa Holland, is no longer trespassed from City Hall.
Phillips appealed the trespass order within days of then-City Manager Matt Morton requesting it from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. He was to have a hearing on his appeal. “This is an appeal to a trespass,” he wrote the city clerk in a hand-written note on May 12. He requested all documents pertaining to the hearing.
In the interim, Holland resigned–she did so two weeks after the Phillips incident, and said the incident or other tense matters at recent council meetings had nothing to do with her decision–and nine days later Morton did so as well. The City Council appointed Denise Bevan, formerly one of two chiefs of staff in the administration, as its interim manager.
On Wednesday, Bevan lifted the trespass warning and cancelled the appeal hearing in a letter to Phillips.
“After review of the files and the video, which were also sent to you by the City Clerk, for this appeal hearing, I hereby release the trespass order,” Bevan wrote. The brief letter was not without a measured admonition: “Please understand that public safety is of great concern to the residents and the City of Palm Coast. By understanding and following the rules of the Council chambers, you are welcome to return to City Hall.”
Phillips is a member of a local pressure group that calls itself the “Flagler Liberty Coalition.” The group, with funding from County Commissioner Joe Mullins, organized a bus trip to the Washington, D.C. pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6 that degraded into an assault on the U.S. Capitol, in which innumerable people at the rally took part, and 516 people charged so far. Phillips locally was part of an anti-masking movement, and has since broadened his attention to other local matters.
At the March 4 meeting he had addressed the City Council before the incident with Holland, during the public comment period. Apparently inaccurately identifying himself as being a Palm Coast resident (he recently took ownership of a house at the north end of the county–he spoke in opposition of the city’s plan to spend upwards of $5 million on an expansion of the municipal tennis center.
His comments were within all normal bounds of public discourse, as they generally are whenever he addresses public bodies. But immediately after the council’s vote approving the initiative, and as the city manager was summarizing the next item–the council was clearly still in session–Phillips rapidly approached Holland, causing her to interrupt the proceedings in fear and requiring law enforcement’s intervention. Shortly after that, Phillips was issued a trespass warning. He told a deputy that he was under the impression that the meeting had adjourned or was in recess, because he saw people leaving the room, and had intended no harm, but rather only intended to ask Holland why she had voted for the expansion. As a deputy was preparing to issue him the trespass warning, Phillips said he would be suing the city.