Newly expanded ordinance outlaws any activity the city claims to be “distracting to motorists”
January 24, 2014
The Dallas, Texas City Council recently expanded an existing ordinance which bans anyone carrying a sign within 75 feet of a freeway to also prohibit anyone from peacefully assembling on or near service roads, bridges and overpasses, including individuals not holding signs and those the city considers to be dressed provocatively.
Passed by the council at their latest meeting, the expanded ordinance gives police and code enforcement officers free reign to ticket or arrest anyone they deem to be “a distraction to motorists,” a term vague enough for the government to enforce in almost any situation without an actual complaint.
“Rather than prohibit the carrying of signs that distract motorists within 75 feet of the designated highways, the proposed amendment would prohibit all conduct intended to distract motorists by individuals standing within the lateral curb line of the highways, including adjoining service or frontage roads as well as on bridges or overpasses over the highways,” the proposal reads.
The ban includes individuals who are not holding signs and those who are “wearing any costume, clothing, attire or accessory intended to attract or seek the attention of the public,” provisions which are so broad, they would seemingly apply to those wearing swimsuits while advertising a charity car wash and even those wearing the latest in fashion trends.
Out of Dallas’s 14 city council members, four voted against the measure, including one member who blasted the ordinance as violating the First Amendment, according to the Dallas News.
That council member, Philip Kingston, also added that the ordinance opens the city up to additional lawsuits.
However, the Chair of the Transportation and Trinity River Project Committee, Vonciel Jones Jill, supported the proposal and said that under the old ordinance, officers did not have authority to regulate the conduct of citizens assembled in public.
“No one is attempting to control speech,” she said. “That is not the point of the ordinance.”
“The point is to regulate conduct.”
Jill would be wise to actually read the First Amendment, because it recognizes the right of the people to assemble peacefully, not just the right to free speech.
Officials will no doubt use this ordinance to shut down any sort of gathering that challenges their authority and the status quo by hiding their political suppression under the guise of “driver safety.”
Back in November, the Dallas Police Dept. attempted to stop Alex Jones and the Infowars crew from protesting outside the Federal Reserve building.
A spokesperson for the police told the crowd that by carrying signs and handing out flyers in public, they were violating two city ordinances.
“Within 75 feet of a freeway or service road, according to the Dallas city ordinance, you may not hold a sign,” she said, adding that handing out leaflets to drivers was also a violation of city code.
These officials are simply using city ordinances to deceptively violate the basic human freedoms recognized by the Bill of Rights.