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ACLU of Utah Files Free Speech Complaint Against Farmington

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and the Utah Legal Clinic have filed a complaint in Federal Court in Salt Lake City challenging Farmington City’s free speech ordinance.

The suit is on behalf of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, Jeremy Beckham and Alexis Levitt. Beckham and Levitt have been charged with misdemeanor offenses related to a public protest of conditions of the animals at Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington. John Mejia is the legal director of the ACLU of Utah. He says the city’s “Free Speech Zone” ordinance puts too many restrictions on speech before a permit is issued.

“You have a very broad ordinance that gives public officials a lot of discretion about how they’re going to enforce this and what kind of speech they’re going to enforce their ordinance against,” says Mejia.

Dave Millheim is the city manager of Farmington. He says he only learned of the complaint Tuesday.

“The city does not have a problem with free speech, nor do we have a problem with protesting. We do have a problem with people openly trying to say they don’t have to follow the rules,” says Millheim, “and that was why these two individuals were cited when they were, because they flat-out refused to come in and talk about it.”

Millheim says all public protest ordinance requirements were suspended last week pending a review of the city ordinance by the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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