City police threatened street preacher Ray Nix for preaching using a megaphone on Sunday, and Mr. Nix said he complied with the demand after demanding which provision of the city code was being cited.
He says efforts to drown him out included the arrival of three motorbikers who parked nearby and revved their engines to block his message.
The city ordinance, to comply with free speech rights, cannot be used to ban or regulate free speech.
It appears the administration of Andy Berke is not careful of first amendment-protected free speech, particularly when it disputes the Berke administration’s pro-gay politics and outlook. Mr. Nix is charged under the state’s vague disorderly conduct statute, and is going to the police department this morning for booking.
Does ordinance affect Mr. Nix?
Sec. 25-69. – Loudspeakers, amplifiers and sound-amplifying devices, requires the officer to have a meter to measure the decibel level, which step Mr. Nix says was omitted from the encounter.
The rule says it is unlawful to use a loudspeaker under conditions.
“Operate or allow the operation of any sound amplification equipment so as to create sounds registering fifty-five (55) dB(A) between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. or fifty (50) dB(A) between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m., as measured anywhere within the boundary line of the nearest residentially occupied property, hospital, school in session or nursing home, except in accordance with a permit obtained from the chief building official.
For noise within a multifamily complex, the police have to go inside a dwelling to measure sound as heard in another. It also covers places of public entertainment. The ordinance limits the use of loudspeakers “for advertising purposes or otherwise to attract customers so as to cast sounds which are unreasonably loud and disturbing or which register more than sixty (60) dB(A) at or on the boundary of the nearest public right-of-way or park.”
Mr. Nix was not advertising.
The provision most approximate to his circumstances is this one, that it is unlawful to —
“Operate or allow the operation for personal use of any sound amplification equipment on the public right-of-way, including streets or sidewalks, or in the public parks so as to produce sounds registering more than sixty (60) dB(A) fifty (50) feet or more from any electromechanical speaker between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., or fifty (50) dB(A) fifty (50) feet or more from any electromechanical speaker between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m.”
Mr. Nix says no report was given to him in the warning reporting the level of his loudspeaker.