Picayune Blocks Speech
October 31, 2014
Picayune, Mississippi — October 31, 2014. On behalf of Jeremy Stockstill, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) sent a letter today to various city officials in Picayune, Mississippi seeking relief from city ordinances that prohibit Stockstill from carrying a sign and speaking about his Christian faith on public sidewalks in the City.
On September 9, 2014, Stockstill and a few friends went to a public sidewalk located on the corner of 5th Avenue and Norwood Street in Picayune so they could express their religious beliefs to those in the area. Using a sound amplification device, Mr. Stockstill spoke in a conversational and respectful tone. Yet, Stockstill was approached by an officer with the Picayune Police Department, who advised him of a city ordinance that bans sound amplification within 150 feet of a school. Stockstill asked if he could go further than 150 feet and use amplification, but this request was denied. Citing another ordinance, the police officer claimed that amplification was barred anywhere in the city without a permit.
Stockstill went back to the same area on October 3, 2014, to share his religious message without the use of amplification. But, Stockstill was stopped by police again and forced to move even further away because of complaints about his speech. Stockstill’s only option was to speak at a place where he could not be heard.
Application of city ordinances to silence Stockstill’s speech on public ways represents a violation of his constitutional rights. “Stockstill is entitled to share his religious beliefs through activities protected by the First Amendment,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. With the letter, Stockstill seeks immediate relief.
Center for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people. For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.