Wisconsin Demonstrators Forbidden to Congregate on, Hang Flag Off Overpass

| by Lina Batarags

A movement called “Overpasses for America” is calling for the president’s impeachment. As you might have guessed from their name, their chosen outlets for self-expression are overpasses.

Overpasses for America is also calling for the removal of members of Congress who “disregard the constitution” and “engage in crony capitalism.”

Demonstrators in Campbell, Wis. started using the town’s pedestrian overpass to display their patriotism and to call for Obama’s impeachment in August of 2013.

After another October gathering that angered local citizens, the Town of Campbell passed an ordinance prohibiting the display of signs, flags, or banners within 100 feet of the overpass.

Chad Hawkins, the town’s clerk and treasurer, said that the ordinance was enacted with the intention of protecting those driving by. A multilane highway runs under this particular overpass, and banners overhead could easily serve as distraction to motorists.

On October 24, demonstrators gathered on the overpass, wearing T-shirts that collectively spelled “IMPEACH OBAMA.” They were ordered off the overpass by police officers who were threatening to issue citations. Amongst them was Thomas Luce, who is now pressing charges against the city.

Joining Luce in the lawsuit is Nicholas Newman, who, three days after the T-shirt incident on the overpass, displayed an American flag on the overpass and was issued a $139 citation.

The Thomas More Law Center is handling Luce and Newman’s lawsuit, which claims that their rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly have been violated. In addition, it states that the ordinance itself is “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Hawkins has also spoken out, saying that the ordinance “was never intended to eliminate their right to speech.”

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Law Center has said that he is “astonished that the Town of Campbell and the police department think it can ban a citizen from displaying the American Flag.”

As Thompson has elaborated, the First Amendment cannot ban expression of ideas “just because some find it offensive.”

“In fact,” Thompson said, “the Supreme Court has allowed the burning of the American Flag on the grounds that it is a matter of free expression.”


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