City of Mequon Will Not Enforce Sign Ordinance Against Recall Organizers, Commits to Review

Published on: Aug 11, 2021

WILL issued a letter after recall organizers were confronted by the police

The News: The City of Mequon, in response to a letter from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), agreed not to enforce the City’s current sign ordinance against local school board recall organizers and committed to a review of the current ordinance to ensure it complies with the First Amendment. WILL issued a letter, Friday, to the City after recall organizers raised concerns when Mequon police officers demanded that recall petitioners stop displaying a sign advertising their efforts on public property.

The Quote: WILL Deputy Counsel, Dan Lennington, said, “The First Amendment has been vindicated. Recall organizers can now be confident that their freedom of speech and right to petition the government will not be infringed. We appreciate the City of Mequon for taking this issue seriously and committing to a review and revision of city ordinances to ensure complete compliance with the Constitution.”

Background: A group of citizens organizing recall elections for members of the Mequon-Thiensville School District (MTSD) have been out in their community with a banner to gather signatures and provide information. The banner read “RecallMTSD.com,” to promote the effort. The goal of the recall election is to restore educational excellence to MTSD. WILL’s client and other parents supporting the recall also oppose Critical Race Theory and mask mandates.

But on at least four occasions, Mequon police officers confronted WILL’s client and told her the sign violated a City sign ordinance and that citations would be issued in the future. The City of Mequon has a sign ordinance that prohibits “Signs, cards, banners, pictures, handbills, sign posters, advertising, or notice of any kind, on any curb, street-walk, public thoroughfare surface, fence, board, barrel, box, case, railing, pole, post, bridge, tree, barricade, material, bridge fender, dock, pile, building or structure of any kind on public ground, public waterway or upon any structure projecting over any public thoroughfare, public ground or public waterway within the city except by City of Mequon authorization.”

WILL issued a letter to Mequon Mayor John Wirth and City Administrator William Jones warning the City that attempts to enforce a sign ordinance against a group of school board recall organizers violates the First Amendment. WILL also highlighted how the City’s ordinance violates the Constitution by regulating signs based upon their content because the City allows other types of signs.

The City of Mequon responded in good faith and has committed to a review of the current sign ordinance. The City committed to halting any enforcement that may violate the Constitution.

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