St. Louis Record

Thursday, October 17, 2019

ACLU pleased with 'In God We Trust' settlement with City of Wentzville


By Carrie Bradon | Nov 24, 2018

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WENTZVILLE — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in April claiming a woman's right to free speech was violated when was ejected from a council meeting for voicing complaints against a sign bearing the words "In God We Trust."

The ACLU sued the City of Wentzville on behalf of Sally Hunt, an activist opposed to a city insignia bearing the words "In God We Trust." According to a report by St. Louis Today, Hunt claimed that she was interrupted while speaking on the issue at a council meeting even though she had not gone over her allotted speaking time.

Hunter claimed that her First Amendment rights had been violated when police officers removed her from the building.

The ACLU and City of Wentzville reached an agreement on Nov. 14 when the city agreed to update their city codes and reaffirm their dedication to the First Amendment and its equal rights for everyone. 

Tony Rothert, Missouri legal director with the ACLU, said the union was pleased with the settlement.

"The right to disagree with public officials without fear of intimidation or retribution is one of the cornerstones of a healthy democracy," Rothert told the St. Louis Record. "We are pleased that the City of Wentzville will protect the First Amendments rights of people who engage with local government."

According to the terms of the settlement, Wentzville will inform law enforcement officers that they cannot remove an individual from a council meeting without probable cause.

Wentzville has agreed to not censor speech due to content during open forums in the future.

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