A Pennsylvania business owner feels that his First Amendment rights were violated when his landlord painted over an Impeach Obama sign.
Brent Kovac maintains that the landlord threatened him with eviction if the sign was not taken down. Kovac says he had placed political signs in the window during his nine years at the location, with no incident.
Kovac said his sign was his way of participating in the Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment campaign, in which people are taking to “the streets and overpasses of America” and demanding that “our nation be returned to We the People,” according to the campaign’s website.
Kovac saw he was exercising his First Amendment rights, so he repainted the same Impeach Obama slogan on the building.
“If I would’ve put an ‘I love Obama’ mural up there, I would probably have every ACLU lawyer from her to San Francisco in a circle up there holding hands in front of my sign,” he told a local CBS affiliate.
Meanwhile, in Missouri, an Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment protest was met with opposition from the state highway patrol, which reportedly became concerned that the sign holders were distracting drivers. Five minor traffic incidents had occurred near the protest earlier in the morning.
Jimmy Weed, 57, and March Messmer, 41, refused to move the Impeach Obama protest elsewhere when instructed to do so by the officers. The men told the police officers that they were invoking their free speech First Amendment rights.
“Citizens have a right to peaceably assemble,” Messmer told the TV affiliate. “We were simply doing that. There were no laws broken.”
The law enforcement officers reportedly tried to convince the group to move along because the protest was being viewed as a public hazard. The Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment protesters offered to compromise and move to a different spot along the roadway sidewalk, but the police officers wanted the group to move off the overpass altogether.
Weed and an officer had the following exchange, as seen on a now-viral Impeach Obama video:
Weed: “What gives you the authority to order me around on a public sidewalk?”
Officer: “Do you recognize that I’m a peace officer? I asked you and told you that you need to leave.”
The protesters refused to comply with the police order and were subsequently arrested and placed in a holding cell for 24 hours.
Said Weed of the arrests, “We’re doing this to drum up more support for our cause.”
Sgt. Al Nothum stated that traffic was extra heavy on the roadway that morning due to a festival and drivers were looking up instead of forward. The officer also said he does not believe the protestors intended to cause traffic incidents but such activity could have unintentionally occurred because of the signs and banners.
The Overpasses for Obama’s Impeachment campaign website says its goal is to have Obama “impeached, removed from office, and held accountable for his actions while serving as President.”
“America is in its greatest time of peril in since the Founding Fathers bravely fought in the Revolutionary War,” the website says. “Lady Liberty is calling YOU to stand up, to speak out, to take to the streets and DEMAND that the corrupt tyrant be removed from the White House, and all of those who colluded with him in his crimes against the United States be held accountable to the full extent of the law, with the maximum sentences handed down upon them. When you grow old, would you rather tell your grandchildren that you stood up for Freedom, or would you rather tell them you did nothing as America fell to the iron fisted grip of tyranny?”