Indianapolis Council Rejects Ferguson-inspired Sign ban
Indianapolis Council Rejects Ferguson-inspired Sign ban
By Brian Eason / indystar.com
Dec 3, 2014

"Hands up, don't shoot" — the rallying cry of police protesters 250 miles away in Ferguson, Mo. — has become an unlikely symbol of free speech in Indianapolis.

The City-County Council on Monday soundly defeated a proposal that would have banned signs from the council dais, with opponents characterizing the sign ban as a unwarranted attack on the First Amendment.

Republican Councilman Jack Sandlin authored the ordinance in response to placards that five council members displayed at their seats during the Aug. 18 council meeting. The signs depicted a black man with his arms raised beneath the slogan "hands up... don't shoot!"

The phrase has become a symbol of the ongoing unrest in Ferguson, where a police officer shot a black 18-year-old, Michael Brown, while some witnesses said his hands were raised in surrender. A grand jury last month voted not to indict officer Darren Wilson, who said he acted in self-defense against a charging Brown.

The council's vote Monday was 20-8 in opposition, after emerging from committee with a recommendation against passage.

Sandlin said the sign was disrespectful to police, saying that some residents and city employees complained that they found the signs offensive.

His colleagues, though, scoffed at the explanation. Democratic Councilman William Oliver asked the council's attorney for a legal opinion on what is "offensive." Councilman Monroe Gray, a Democrat who displayed one of the signs in August, countered that he didn't find the signs "to be any more offensive" than some of the votes Sandlin had taken that evening.

Sandlin, though, insisted that he wasn't trying to stifle free speech. His colleagues would still be free to speak their mind, he said, but the council should have guidelines for how they express themselves.

"I still think it's important for us to have some sort of rules of decorum," Sandlin said. "This proposal in no way attempted to restrict someone's First Amendment rights."

At the end of the day, free speech concerns won out.

"Our country was founded by a bunch of crazy people standing up on soap boxes," said Republican Councilman Robert Lutz. "I don't think we should approve anything that limits our thoughts."

0.0 ·
0

Support Films For Action

Films For Action empowers citizens with the information they need to help create a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

We receive no government or corporate funding and rely on our supporters to keep us going. ​

Donate today

 

Join Team Transition

Create an account on Films For Action and join our growing community of people who want to change the world!

Add videos, articles and more. Rate member content. Our library is powered by you.

Trending Today
How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’
George Lakey11,127 views today ·
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett2,412 views today ·
The Hopeful Thing About Our Ugly, Painful Polarization
George Lakey1,962 views today ·
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn1,381 views today ·
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad1,296 views today ·
This Facebook Comment About the UK Election Is Going Viral
Chris Renwick1,010 views today ·
Paramedic's Response to "Burger Flippers" Making an Equal $15/Hour is Beautiful
Craig Carilli781 views today ·
What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?
Katherine Reynolds Lewis723 views today ·
When a Whole Generation of Youth "Feels Cheated," That's Something Worth Paying Attention To
Daniel Quinn607 views today ·
Load More
Join us on Facebook
Indianapolis Council Rejects Ferguson-inspired Sign ban