City of Dallas Cracks Down on Free Speech Near Highways

| by Michael Allen

This week the Dallas City Council voted to approve changes to a law that banned  protesters from carrying signs within 75 feet of a major freeway.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the approved changes now also ban “individuals carrying signs, wearing costumes, or engaging in other activities intended to draw attention to their signs or themselves.”

The new law will also “prohibit all conduct intended to distract motorists by individuals standing within the lateral curb lines of the highways, including adjoining service or frontage roads, as well as on bridges or overpasses over the highways.”

Council member Philip Kingston, who voted against the law, said it was “against free speech.”

Kingston noted that the City of Dallas has already been sued over the original law and there is a state law to protect drivers.

Courthouse News reported in October 2013 that six protesters sued the City of Dallas twice after they were arrested for holding signs that read "I [heart] the Bill of Rights" and "I love the First Amendment" on a street corner.

But law enforcement supports the speech ban because the state law supposedly isn't strong enough.

“We don’t believe state law application is going to cover the behavior of protesters over overpasses, hanging signage,” stated Dallas Police Chief David Brown.

Council member Dwaine Caraway claims the new law “is not anti-protest,” but is “pro-safety.”

However, the City of Dallas has failed to prove that the protesters have endangered anyone.

Sources: Courthouse News and Dallas Morning News