On April 25th Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott (D) took to social media and the local news to demand that Roy Steffan remove an “offensive” flag from Mr. Steffan’s private property. The flag in question boldly states “Fuck Biden” as a statement against President Biden. Mayor McDermott went as far as to publicly threaten legal action against Mr. Steffan if he continued to fly the flag.
While the Libertarian Party of Indiana neither endorses or opposes Mr. Steffan’s message, we stand with him in defense of the rights of all people to make political statements without the threat and fear of government censorship, harassment, or retribution.
Mr. Steffan has the Constitutionally protected right to engage in political speech on his personal private property… even if that speech is considered vulgar or offensive by some people. The landmark US Supreme Court case Cohen v. California (1971), where a person was charged with disturbing the peace for wearing a jacket in public that said “Fuck The Draft”, found that displaying a mere four-letter word was not sufficient justification to allow government to restrict free speech and that free speech can be restricted only under severe circumstances beyond offensiveness.
Mayor McDermott stated that they (the City) would find another way of punishing Mr. Steffan, through other code enforcement violations, for continuing to exercise his constitutional right to free speech.
The Mayor of Hammond believes that the city has the authority to punish political speech that he disagrees with. An elected official abusing their office to threaten and intimidate people for exercising their 1st Amendment rights is unacceptable. Even if you find the message offensive or vulgar, it is protected political speech.
The taxpayers of Lake County and the City of Hammond shouldn’t be on the hook for the legal fees and civil judgement that will come should the resident decide to sue the City for violating his civil liberties.
The Libertarian Party of Indiana asks you to participate in this urgent Call To Action by using the form below to send a message calling on Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott to make a public apology to Mr. Roy Steffan for violating his civil rights and to vow to never take such actions again and for the Hammond City Council, Lake County Council, and Lake County Commissioners to censure Mayor McDermott for his actions and to declare this type of behavior as inappropriate, unlawful, and unwelcome. – Take Action Here