‘Americans Don’t Need A Permission Slip To Speak’: City Rescinds Law After Veteran Fights Back

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Aaron Life Contributor
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A Georgia town is abolishing a law that led to the January arrest of veteran Jeff Gray for protesting while holding a sign that said “God bless the homeless vets.”

Gray was accused of violating a Blackshear, Georgia, city ordinance requiring protesters to receive permission from the mayor and city council before protesting. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), filed two First Amendment lawsuits: one against the city of Alpharetta and two of its officers, and another against Blackshear’s police chief; the city has rescinded this law, according to FIRE. (RELATED: Army Vet Files Lawsuit After Being Arrested For Holding ‘God Bless The Homeless Vets’ Sign)

These lawsuits came in response to two incidents. Gray was given a citation for protesting without a permit in 2021 when he displayed a sign outside of the Blackshear City Council building.  In the second instance, Gray stood outside of the Alpharetta City Hall on January 27th with a sign that read “God Bless the Homeless Vets.” A police officer then demanded to see his ID and arrested him for panhandling, according to a FIRE press release.

Blackshear pledged to train their officers more thoroughly on the First Amendment and donated $1,791 to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. However, the lawsuits remain pending, according to a FIRE press release.

“It’s a new dawn in Blackshear. Americans don’t need a permission slip to speak in front of city hall. The First Amendment is their permission slip,” said FIRE attorney Harry Rosenthal.

However, this is not Gray’s first experience protesting or encountering police. He runs a YouTube channel called “Honor Your Oath,” where he protests and records how city officials and police react. His goal is to ensure that police are enforcing the Constitution as it was written.

“We held the town of Blackshear, Georgia, accountable for violating my civil liberties, and we did so in a classy, meaningful and effective manner,” said Gray.

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