Fort Myers Florida Police Stop Local Names Project

Our friend Willie Filkowski in Fort Myers Florida has been writing the names of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan on the sidewalks of Ft Myers since July 1st. He was inspired by Nancy Hiss’ Iraq Names Project and wanted to do something where he lived. And so he has. Until July 30th.

On Monday he was stopped by the police. They told him what he was doing was graffiti and he would need to get a permit from the city if he wanted to continue. The city manager has already said that if Willie applies for a permit it will be denied.

The News-Press has done a good story on this bold 15 year old and his attempt to get the city council to ok his memorial.

Nancy has also been told by Tri-Met and City of Portland Park Rangers that her work is graffiti. I am here to tell you it is not.

The first amendment to the Constitution Of The United States Of America clearly states that the government shall make no laws abridging the freedom of speech. Graffiti laws are only constitutional to the degree that they prohibit the destruction of property. There is no destruction of property when you write with chalk. It is that simple.

Willie and Nancy are artists creating a public memorial on public property. Their expression of free speech does not destroy property, block the movement of traffic or pedestrians or in any other way cause a disturbance.

The legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Randall Marshall,  said “The city is treading on thin ice,”. 

One Response to “Fort Myers Florida Police Stop Local Names Project”

  1. Willie Filkowski Says:

    Thanks, guys for your support, and I hope we can get this taken care of SOON.

    It IS within my rights, and, if the first try with city council (if we’re granted one) doesn’t get us anyhwere, to the ACLU we go.

    I understand these arguments.. maybe the city will too.
    If not, the story continues.

    Much luck with your project.

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