Precinct 333

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Dems Close Down Businesses, First Amendment Rights In Boston

Mark F. Pasquale owns Halftime Pizza, just across from the Fleet Center in Boston. He had hoped to make some money off the Democrat Convention -- but discovered that delegates will be fed by special interest groups during the convention, effectively cutting out the small business owners in the neighborhood from any share of the convention dollar. More infuriating to this Republican, restrictions on pedestrian and vehicle traffic will make it impossible to conduct his regular business. That means that the economic impact of the convention will be red ink for one of the closest businesses to the convention venue, since he is being forced to close.

His response in the best tradition of the First Amendment, is a protest banner -- 24 feet long and 4 feet high. It reads "Say DNC Thanks for Nothing! Go Bush." Now the city of Boston has cited him for hanging an unlicensed banner and covering a door that is always locked and gated. Pasquale is one of a dozen businessmen so cited in the neighborhood.

It strikes me that we have a classic violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution here. This is not commercial speech, subject to government regulation. It is political speech, directed at the activities and actions of one of the major political parties as it nominates its presidential candidate. As such, the citation appears invalid on its face.

The Massachusetts GOP has expressed support for Pasquale, who indicates the sign will stay up and he will fight the citations. Are there any Boston lawyers out there who are interested in fighting for the little guy?


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