(Courtesy St. Petersburg Times)
So, the Florida city of Clearwater has an ordinance that prohibits business from posting exterior murals that depict products sold on the premises. They recently fined a bait-and-tackle shop for its mural of game fish. (Note: they don't sell game fish...) That seems a bit goofy, judging from the pictures in the linked story, but the plot thickens:
But Herb Quintero, owner of The Complete Angler at 705 N Fort Harrison Ave., insists the mural is art, not a sign. Last month, in response to a city deadline to remove the mural, he covered it with a banner displaying the text of the First Amendment.
City officials said the mural violated an ordinance that bars businesses from depicting what they sell.
The city recently cited the store again for the mural and the banner. Quintero says he’s been informed that he’ll soon face $500-a-day fines.
“Only in Florida could a business owner be targeted and fined for displaying artwork; and then in protest of the fine, display the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – and then be ticketed for that,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “Unfortunately, public officials disregard constitutional freedoms all the time, but punishing citizens for displaying the Constitution may be a first.”
Here's hoping that Clearwater changes their absurd ordinance and/or cleans up their (apparently) inconsistent enforcement.
A bait-and-tackle shop fined for displaying the First Amendment? Um...no.