A U.S. Army veteran and retired truck driver has secured a legal victory after being issued a criminal citation for holding a sign with the message “God bless the homeless vets” in front of a Georgia city hall.
Jeff Gray was issued a citation by police in Blackshear, Georgia because he didn’t have a government permit to hold the sign on public property. Gray filed a lawsuit with the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) and the University of Georgia’s (UGA) First Amendment Clinic, who argued it was unconstitutional to require citizens to get approval from the mayor and city council to exercise their right to protest, according to FIRE’s press release.
Jeff Gray was issued a citation by police in Blackshear, Georgia because he didn’t have a government permit to hold the sign on public property. (Courtesy of Lacy Jessica Photography)
In response to the settlement, the city has rescinded the ordinance, vowed to train officers on the First Amendment and donated money $1,791 to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. The amount of the donation symbolizes the year the First Amendment was ratified.
“We held the town of Blackshear, Georgia, accountable for violating my civil liberties, and we did so in a classy, meaningful and effective manner,” Gray said of the lawsuit.
FIRE argued it was unconstitutional to require citizens to get approval from the mayor and city council to exercise the right to protest. (Courtesy of Lacy Jessica Photography)
In Blackshear, the city’s Police Chief Chris Wright issued Gray a criminal citation and told him that he had to have a permit for a “parade, procession, or demonstration” to hold his sign outside city hall.
Wright admitted it was “kind of silly,” but explained that in accordance with the city’s ordinance, according to a press release. FIRE argued the ordinance was nearly identical to a law struck down by the Supreme Court in 1969. Gray would have to send a letter to the mayor and city council explaining the purpose of his demonstration and obtain official approval to do so.
The city of Blackshear, GA did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.