ORW’s President To Plead “Not Guilty” Tonight in Bel Aire Graphic Sign Case
Says Mobile Sign Ordinance Misapplied to Truth Truck Message
Wichita, Kansas — Operation Rescue West President Troy Newman will plead “Not Guilty” this evening on a misdemeanor charge of parking the now famous Truth Truck, “calculated to attract the attention of the public” on a public street in Bel Aire, Kansas.
Newman was arrested in January for violating the city’s building code banning movable signs by parking his vehicle bearing graphic images of aborted babies in the neighborhood of Carrie Klaege, an employee of late-term abortionist George Tiller of Wichita.
Ignoring the Constitutional guarantees to Free Speech as well as the rights of American citizens to travel freely on public streets in the United States, Bel Aire City Attorney Lee E. Parker insisted that the truck is in violation of City Ordinance 280 §7.102L, a building code that bans the use of “temporary on-site signs that are designed in such a manner as to be readily movable” and that “calculate to attract the attention of the public.”
Other cities have attempted to ban the Truth Truck, but have been unsuccessful because of free speech protections provided by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
On the day of the arrest, Operation Rescue West Staff members took photos of no fewer than 14 similar vehicles emblazoned with commercial messages parked on the public streets of Bel Aire.
“It’s a sad day in our nation when a law-abiding citizen is banned from the use of public streets simply because the city does not like the message he carries on his vehicle. This is obviously selective prosecution since every other truck displaying messages of a commercial nature in Bel Aire was allowed to freely travel and park without harassment from city officials. The City of Bel Aire has place the First Amendment below commercial considerations, and that is a blow to the freedom of every American,” said Newman.
“Yes, I was ‘calculating to attract the attention of the public’ with our message that abortion is a heinous sin against God and man. Attracting the attention of the public is the very essence of Freedom of Speech. But according to the way Bel Aire officials are interpreting their building code, those people who wish to display even a bumper sticker would be subject to arrest and impound of their vehicle, if the city decided that the message was ‘calculated to attract the attention of the public.’ In a free country, this draconian abuse of authority and lack of respect for Constitutional Rights cannot be tolerated. It is our duty to challenge this in court for the protection of the rights of all.” -Troy Newman, President, Operation Rescue West