Jeff Gray, who runs the popular HonorYourOath YouTube channel, was arrested Wednesday for standing outside a municipal building in Georgia with a sign that said “F*ck City Hall.”
The Florida resident and veteran Photography is Not a Crime reporter had no real gripe with the city of Moultrie. He was just putting it to the test as he has done so many times to cities and law enforcement agencies throughout Florida and Georgia.
“I wanted to see if on the day before Independence Day if freedom of speech was respected in America,” he said in a telephone interview after he was released from jail.
But Gray’s sign drew the ire of Moultrie City Manager Pete Dilliard who called Gray “vulgar” and “low class” and had him arrested on a city disorderly conduct ordinance that police claimed made it illegal to use profanity in public.
Dillard advised Gray to apply for a permit but Gray insisted the First Amendment was the only permit he needed.
It was only last December that Moultrie told local media that he agreed with the city’s police chief that the city’s disorderly conduct ordinance is too broad and leads to unnecessary arrests.
The city council was expected to make changes to the ordinance, which has 29 subsections, so that it would fall more in line with the state’s law on disorderly conduct which only has four subsections.
According to the Thomasville Times-Enterprise:
The goal of this new ordinance is to decrease the number of arrests for a petty disorderly conduct charge. Such petty charges could include yelling insults at an officer, which is an arrestable offense under the current ordinance. Ladson wants that part of the ordinance gone along with a few other tweaks.
Moultrie City Council approved first and second readings of the changes at its meeting Tuesday. Councilmen are expected to consider final adoption at the next council meeting on Dec. 18.
But the city ordinance posted online shows that it still has 29 subsection and has not been supplemented since March 2018.
But the subsection that addresses profanity states that the language need to have a “direct tendency to cause acts of violence.”
Utters or uses in the presence of another any bawdy, lewd, abusive, indecent, vulgar, threatening or obscene language or make an obscene gesture in or near a public place which has a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by, to, or provokes a violent response by, the person to whom or of whom the remarks are addressed or heard; or,
So it appears to be an unlawful arrest even by the city’ stringent standards.
Earlier this year it was reported that a Colorado man received a $175,000 settlement for his disorderly conduct arrest for holding up a sign in public that said “Fuck Bad Cops.”
“If we can’t do it the right way, we’ll do it OUR way,” one of the cops told Gray while he was being arrested.