A business owner in Treasure Island, Fla., is taking the city to federal court after he received a $118 citation for a sign he displayed during the municipality’s annual Veterans Day Boat Parade.
“Our first amendment rights have just been walked on when they say you can’t have a sign that supports the veterans on Veterans Day,” Dave Duvernay told the local NBC TV affiliate after he filed the lawsuit in U.S. Middle District of Florida in Tampa. “It’s just a day to let them know how much we appreciate their services.”
Duvernay, who owns a local advertising business, said he went before the City of Treasure Island commission to ask for permission to display a sign that said, “Thank You Veterans” and “God Bless America” during the parade. He had been cited previously for an ordinance violation. City officials denied his request.
Duvernay decided to display the sign because of the support he received from the community and veterans.
Treasure Island city manager Garry Brumback declined an interview about the lawsuit. In an email, Brumback told the station that Duvernay violated the ordinance on other occasions.
“The violation has nothing to do with the content of the message, but the sign itself,” the email read.
The ordinance reads: “Posting of advertising prohibited, no exception. No person shall post or display any sign, banner or advertisement unless licensed so to do by the city commission as a concessionaire or a licensee under a written concession or license agreement or lease.”