Farmer says township is censoring his signs | News
GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- You may have seen the messages while driving along M-6. In a field are a pair of truck trailers, on one in bold red letters is the message: "Marxism/Socialism = Poverty & Hunger." The other says: "Obama's 'Mission Accomplished.' 8% unemployment. 16 Trillion Debt."
They've been up for months and prompted a pair of citizen complaints that landed Vern Verduin in court Friday. Gaines Township's attorney, Crystal Morgan said the signs violate the township's ordinance that limits political signs to smaller than 20 square feet.
Verduin testified that he put up the messages on his farmland because he believed he "had a right to my opinion. I thought that's the way our country was going."
Judge Steven Servaas' courtroom was packed with friends and family sympathetic to Verduin's desire to express his opinion in a public way. One of them, Joyce DeLange, said "we think we have the right to free speech. They shouldn't take it away from us."
Judge Servaas wondered if a sign that said "I love America" would be in violation of the township ordinance. The township attorney said it would-- if it was larger than 20 square feet.
Servaas said he would issue a decision in about 10 days, but did remark, "You have to be pretty careful about what you let the government stop you from saying."