Houston Police Arrest And Ticket Man For Protest Signs - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/31/07 - Houston, Texas

Houston Police Arrest And Ticket Man For Protest Signs

A Houston man is arrested and ticketed for doing something that seemed innocent. He's accused of breaking a Houston law that you probably haven't heard of before.

Now there's a push to change that decades old law that says it's illegal to carry a sign on Houston streets.

To flip through Christopher Kelly's homemade sign is to see how one man likes to colorfully showcase his feelings towards the political establishment. On October 18, 2004, as thousands of Astros fans converged on downtown Houston with signs supporting the team, Kelly came as well.

"I figured if there was a crowd of people, I could get more people to look at my sign so I figured at the baseball game would be a perfect place to be able to do something like that," he said.

The sign grabbed the attention of a Houston police officer who promptly wrote Kelly a ticket based on a little known city ordinance passed in 1970. Kelly's attorney says he was also handcuffed and taken around the area in the back seat of a police car.

"The city of Houston actually had a city ordinance which made it against the law to carry a poster on the streets of Houston," said Kelly's attorney, Randall Kallinen.

Not content to let his posters do the talking, Kelly filed a lawsuit against the city, aiming to get the ordinance repealed.

"I thought Texas was the vanguard of individual freedom and expression," Kelly told the city council. "I now have doubts about this country, county, city and how strong the US constitution is held high."

Kelly and his attorney were hoping the council members would repeal the ordinance. The city's legal department has already agreed to the compromise so now it is just up to the council for a final vote.

"I think this will open up freedom of speech for everybody in Houston without being prosecuted. I hope this is at least accomplished," Kelly said.

As part of the agreement reached for this lawsuit, the council will vote on it this Wednesday.

The city has agreed to pay Kelly around $25,000 for legal expenses. The ticket he received was dismissed in court.

Story courtesy of KRTK - Houston.

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