Arnold will not enforce law preventing KKK from distributing flyers

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by KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on October 19, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 19 at 11:35 PM

Arnold, MO

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ARNOLD, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- The city of Arnold has decided not to enforce an anti-littering ordinance that would have prevented the Ku Klux Klan from putting flyers on car windshields.

Federal courts ruled against the city of Cape Girardeau recently on the same issue, and Arnold has a nearly identical ordinance. City officials are backing off enforcement for now, but plan to rewrite the law.

City Attorney Bob Sweeney said the law was enacted in the mid-1970s to protect property and address littering.

KKK leaders say fliers are one of the only ways the group can promote its message. ACLU Legal Director Anthony Rothert said the Arnold ordinance may have been written to prevent littering, but was too broad.

"...the ordinance, as it's written, restricts too much speech, so it restricts leaflets even if they're securely placed under the windshield wiper...so under court precedent, that's too much of a restriction of speech," Rothert said.

Sweeney said he thinks "everyone understood what it meant" when the law was written. But he said the ordinance will require a good amount of tweaking.

In the meantime, Klan members say they will distribute flyers soon, perhaps in the next couple weeks.

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