Ticket for Protest Sign Sparks Lawsuit

City inspector said free speech isn't allowed on public property


Two years ago, Baytown, Texas officials threatened to fine local resident Byron Schirmbeck for the crime of standing on the sidewalk with a sign, peacefully protesting the use of red light cameras. Now Schirmbeck is fighting back with a civil rights lawsuit he filed last week in the US District Court for the Southern Division of Texas.

Schirmbeck led activists in gathering signatures that eventually put the question of photo enforcement in Baytown to the public on the November 2010 ballot. Baytown voters sided with Schirmbeck, with 58 percent demanding the cameras come down.