While the signs may be provocative, Reily has a 1st Amendment right of free speech. He should be able to erect whatever sign he wants on his property. Reily lives in Uptown New Orleans, not in a subdivision that places restrictions on homeowner rights. He has been posting such political signs for months and no one complained or protested. In fact, his neighbors such as Katherine deMontluzin are supportive of his message. “I think it’s fine. It’s on his property,” she said.
This should be no big deal, but in this instance a local talk radio station WBOK AM, encouraged their listeners to gather in front of Reily’s house to protest the anti-Obama signs. Enraged protestors made inflammatory comments calling on Mr. Reily to remove the signs immediately. One of the most vocal activists, Raymond Rock, claimed that the signs were “nothing but pure racism.”
It is odd that protesters viewed the signs as racist, since only political messages were depicted. In our hyper sensitive society, some Obama supporters view any criticism of the President as racist. Protesters have very short memories for only a few years ago, liberal activists depicted President George W. Bush as a baby in a diaper or as a Nazi in uniform. One filmmaker even produced a movie about the assassination of President Bush.
Charging Mr. Reily with racism falls flat since he supports African American Herman Cain for President and has contributed money to the mayoral campaign of Ray Nagin, another African American.
On Wednesday, as the protest was in full bloom, Nagin appeared out of nowhere to meet with Mr. Reily and try to convince him to remove the signs. Fortunately, he failed and the signs remain on Reily’s property.
Despite Mr. Reily’s free speech and property rights, District-A Councilwoman Susan Guidry (D-New Orleans) is also trying to force Reily to remove the signs. According to Guidry, “We have to determine that there is a zoning law that prohibits perhaps the size of the sign.”
On Wednesday, Guidry called the police to the scene to monitor the protest and insure public safety. Instead of working on the really important issues in her district, such as the high crime rate or the horrific street conditions in Lakeview, Guidry is spending her time worrying about a couple of signs in a quiet Uptown neighborhood. Talk about misplaced priorities and political pandering! The voters of District-A need to remind Ms. Guidry that she should be focusing on real problems, not manufactured nonsense.
This whole incident was caused by protesters from outside the Uptown area, being encouraged by a publicity seeking radio station. It is no surprise that Ray Nagin would insert himself into a racially charged incident that is what the “Chocolate City” Mayor does best. However, for Susan Guidry, a sitting council member, to stir the pot, call police to the scene, inflame tensions and get distracted by a couple of yard signs is truly reprehensible.
According to Mr. Reily, Ms. Guidry “demanded” that the signs be removed and was so irate that he had to ask her to leave his house. It’s clear she is siding with protesters and is opposed to property rights. In effect, she is another typical politician, contributing to our problems and not solving anything.
Jeff Crouere is a native of New Orleans, LA and he is the host of a Louisiana based program, “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. For more information, visit his web site at www.ringsidepolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].
Watch video below