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The Truth Can Be Offensive

TEMPE, ARIZONA – The Center for Religious Expression has sent a letter to officials in Tempe seeking relief after Tempe police officers restricted Sean Williams from sharing his religious beliefs on a sidewalk outside of a local abortion clinic on January 19. 2013.

Though the sidewalk is a quintessential public space where citizens can express their views, Williams was told that his speech was disturbing the peace after an unidentified neighbor complained about him. Williams had been using a cup with the bottom hollowed out in order to direct his voice, and officers that he needed to stop or would be arrested.

“All citizens enjoy the fundamental right to share their views in public places. Police officers cannot silence a person because they or other citizens find their speech offensive.,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum.

No devices were used to test the volume of Williams’ speech, which was not amplified and merely projected through the cup. Kellum emphasized that government regulation can only apply to excessive noise. “Sean Williams was not excessively loud for the time or place. A person’s first amendment rights to share their deeply held beliefs can not be curtailed just because the neighbors might find it offensive.”

CRE’s letter demands a written response within two weeks.