Tale of Two Signs

275-before-after-signsTale of Two Signs

Lance Thate
Special to Historic City News

The two signs, pictured here are signs that were placed at St Augustine Beach City Hall. The location of both signs is at the East entrance to the parking lot. The sign on the left was replaced by the sign on the right using the same sign pole.

The sign on the left was in place on August 23, 2016, when the Tea Party began its protest demonstrations. The sign on the right was in place on September 12, 2016 the night of the Commissioner’s meeting. It is not clear as to what date the swap took place. This is a continuing story, perhaps, that will become clear later.

What this juggling act does show is the Commissioner’s compulsive need to control the election in their jurisdiction. When this business with signs started, the clear target of the Commissioners was political speech.

They were not targeting temporary garage sale signs that appear from time to time in the public right-of- way. It is interesting that the city attorney, James P Wilson had a justification for the sign swap without ever mentioning the signs.

Mr. Wilson advised the Commissioners that they could not regulate the content of the signs. The implication being that if you will allow political signs, you must also allow controversial signs. The Commissioners rather than risking controversial signs, which has never occurred to date, preferred to eliminate all signs. This effectively eliminates public comment and expression on all public lands.

This progressive tactic, the “Politically Correct” term for Communist, has been applied by the left, across the country. Locally, this same argument removed the American Flags from the “Bridge of Lions” in St. Augustine, Florida. If you flew the “American Flag” it is possible that someone might wish to fly a “Gay Rainbow Flag”. So the solution is banning all Flags. Using “Political Correctness” to curb free speech is a tactic that originated in the Soviet Union.

“The removal and prohibition of political signs, greatly benefits the incumbent candidates. Challengers with less name recognition are at a great disadvantage if they cannot use political signs,” Rosetta Bailey, a candidate for Commissioner of St. Augustine Beach, commented. “These self-serving Commissioners cannot be allowed to suppress free speech and sway or control elections.”

Jerry Cameron, a candidate for County Commissioner, who lost a primary bid by seven votes, reports that his campaign volunteer was prohibited from putting signs at City Hall by a city employee. When the volunteer objected, pointing to numerous other signs, the city employee indicated they will be removed.

On Sunday August 21st the signs were gone.

The St. Augustine Beach Civic Association and the City Commissioners have a close working relationship. There are reports that members of the Civic Association have used intimidation and even violence against people who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights. As an example, an older man was pushed around, his sign broken up, and later charged with stalking, which proved to be contrived, after he was placed in jail.

The St. Augustine Tea Party has also been challenged by hateful people representing the Civic Association at Pier Park. Our Town Crier volunteers have five-year’s experience dealing with the public. On occasion, we meet the hateful confrontation of the Communists among us. Our volunteers know how to recognize and deal with it.

St. Augustine Beach should be a tolerant and open beach community. Tyranny from City Hall overshadows American values.

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