After buying and renovating a building and turning it into a bait shop in Clearwater, Florida, the owners commissioned an artist to paint a mural of local game fish on the outside.  The artwork was stopped because the city said the rules prohibit murals on businesses that depict the product the business sells.  The bait shop doesn’t sell game fish, but never mind.  The owner was fined, and he paid it.

Then the city demanded he paint over the fish.  He refused, and hung a banner with the First Amendment on it over the mural.  And guess what happened next:  $500-a-day fine for posting Constitution
Man fights back: ‘This is for every businessman that’s ever been railroaded’

The American Civil Liberties Union has been reeled in and is representing Quintero in court.

“Only in Florida could a business owner be targeted and fined for displaying artwork; and then in protest of the fine, display the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – and then be ticketed for that,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “Unfortunately, public officials disregard constitutional freedoms all the time, but punishing citizens for displaying the Constitution may be a first.”

The lawsuit claims the city is being arbitrary in its code enforcement, cracking down on some local murals while ignoring others completely. It says Clearwater has been granted too much power to decide the difference between what is actually art versus what is a sign.

H/T Pat Dollard

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