TOLEDO, OH - The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio held a press conference today calling on Toledo City Council to adopt an official policy for citizens who bring signs to council meetings.
The press conference follows the arrest of two people, who were stopped while attempting to enter the Toledo City Council chambers with protest signs. Representatives of the Toledo City Council later admitted to the ACLU that they have no official policy banning signs.
“Some citizens have been permitted to bring signs while others have been prohibited from engaging in the same activity,” said ACLU of Ohio Staff Counsel Carrie Davis. “Upon further investigation, it appears that there is no written sign policy at all, and that some type of ‘unwritten rule’ is enforced at the discretion of the council. This is unconstitutional.”
The ACLU has delivered a letter to the Toledo City Council, outlining their criticism and explaining that while the council is permitted to make rules regarding conduct during council meetings, these rules must be made known to the public and enforced on a consistent basis.
The letter warns that the unequal application of unwritten rules may well set the stage for further legal action. It asks for a response from council within one week.
“City council is not permitted to make up the rules as they go along,” concluded Davis “As it stands, they appear to be selectively enforcing their unofficial policy based on who is carrying the sign and what message the sign conveys. This must stop.”