Ordinance lands man with anti-SAFE Act sign in court

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – Scott Zawierucha and his attorney say, he’s simply exercising his constitutional right to free speech. But the Town of Hamburg has cited Zawierucha for the sign he put up on his fence, expressing his opposition to the NY SAFE Act.

The four-by-ten foot banner says, “NY is not S.A.F.E. Stop Cuomo. Preserve your rights.” The issue, according to the town, is that it’s on the outside of Zawierucha’s fence, facing South Park Avenue.

A town zoning ordinance prohibits any language or images from being placed on the outward side of a resident’s fence.

A large group of supporters gathered at town hall for Zawierucha’s court appearance on Thursday, some carrying signs that read, “Repeal the SAFE Act.”

Attorney Jim Ostrowski says the ordinance is unconstitutional, because it violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

“It’s a broad ordinance, but political speech is at the core of the First Amendment. It bars an avenue for political speech, so that has to be challenged,” he argued.

Zawierucha added, “It has nothing offensive. There’s no profanity. It doesn’t hamper public safety; it doesn’t block any view of traffic. It really doesn’t bother anybody.”

Both Hamburg town justices recused themselves from the case, because of possible conflicts of interest. One has represented Zawierucha’s family members in the past; the other is the father of the town attorney.

The case will be moved to another town court where Ostrowski says, he’ll file motion to dismiss.

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