ACLU Defends Anti-War Signs in Letter to the City of Toledo - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/13/06-Toledo, Ohio

ACLU Defends Anti-War Signs in Letter to the City of Toledo

Nelson posted the signs outside his home in the Old West End. Nelson posted the signs outside his home in the Old West End.
The signs keep track of the war dead and wounded. The signs keep track of the war dead and wounded.
Nelson added 5 to his number of US deaths on Tuesday. Nelson added 5 to his number of US deaths on Tuesday.

Story and video Provided by: WTOL Raycom Media

OLD WEST END -- The American Civil Liberties Union is getting involved in a spat over anti-war signs in front of a house in Toledo, Ohio's Old West End.

Jeff Nelson put 4 signs in his yard, keeping track of the number of dead and wounded in the war in Iraq, and pointing out that there were no weapons of mass destruction found.  The city says that's too many signs, and asked him to take them down or face a fine.

The city's sign ordinance says a homeowner can't have more than one sign in the yard.  The ACLU argues that political signs are exempt from the law, and Nelson should be allowed to have as many as he wants.  "In this case, the particular provision of the ordinance they say he's violating, which is having 4 signs rather than 1, frankly doesn't apply to him," Jeff Gamso of the ACLU told News 11.  "These are political signs and there is no provision in the ordinance even on how many political signs you can have in your yard."

In a prepared statement, Gamso went on to explain the ACLU's position.  "Courts across the nation have affirmed that people have a right to express political views through signs displayed on their property," the statement read.  "Time and again, courts have rejected laws that attempt to restrict the number of political signs posted."

Nelson says he wants people to be informed whether they support the war or not.  He says he'd like to take his signs down and see the US pull out of Iraq, but doesn't see it happening anytime soon.  "Not only do I think that they're being well received, they're informative," said Nelson.  "In my mind, they're basically just factual at this point."

Every day, Nelson says he checks the numbers as they come out from the Pentagon on different web sites.  "It's a pretty sad routine, and I wish I didn't have to do it," said Nelson.  While News 11 was there for the interview with Nelson, the number of Americans killed jumped by 5, so Nelson went out and updated his sign.  He says he does it for a reason.  "I figured either it might cause somebody who doesn't think about the war to pause and think or others it's a constant reminder," he said.

Nelson says not everyone agrees with his signs, but he believes it's his right to free speech to display them.  "The effect is going is going to be the same in Iraq whether we leave now or 10 years [from now,]" he said, "How many more have to die?"

Nelson would like more than anything to take the signs down, but as long as the US is there, he has no plans on removing them.  The ACLU is now waiting on word from the city, hoping they won't have to fight this in court.

Count on News 11 to follow this case as it develops.

As of Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006, at least 2,939 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,357 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.  The AP count is six higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST.

The British military has reported 126 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 18; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, six; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Romania, one death each.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Iraq, 22,229 U.S. service members have been wounded, according to a Defense Department tally.

Posted by AEB

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