ACLU sends property association letter about free speech
by MBJ Staff
Published: May 15,2013
DIAMONDHEAD — The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has sent an open letter to the Diamondhead Property Owners Association (POA) on behalf of several residents of the City of Diamondhead who have complained that the POA’s rules, regulations and covenants do not permit them to display political yard signs or engage in door-to-door campaigning.
The City of Diamondhead is in the midst of its first municipal elections since incorporation in 2012.
In the open letter, the ACLU called on the POA to assure residents that it would refrain from enforcing its covenants, rules, and regulations that impermissibly violate its members’ First Amendment rights.
Bear Atwood, legal director of the ACLU of Mississippi, notes that the city and the POA are so intertwined that the POA has become a “state actor subject to the demands of the Constitution.”
“The POA claims the authority to censor any speech that it deems inappropriate in nearly all residential areas of the city,” said Atwood. “As a result, neither residents of Diamondhead nor candidates for political office enjoy the same rights to free speech as their counterparts in other municipalities.”
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