RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – Five evangelical Christians say Richmond police keep writing them up for being loud at public street festivals that host live bands and other street performers. In their federal complaint, the men says they are “discharging a religious duty by publicly proclaiming and orally communicating their beliefs,” and they have to use “megacones” to do it.
The mean say they have to use the artificial volume enhancers in order for their religious message “to be effectively heard among the surrounding noises” at these public events.
They say Richmond police cite them under a noise ordinance based on a Virginia code that is unconstitutional and unreasonably broad.
The men say Richmond’s interpretation of the ordinance puts individuals and small groups in danger of “having their expressive activity labeled as ‘loud and disturbing noise’.”
They say the City of Richmond and several police officers violated their freedom of speech and freedom of association. They want Richmond’s application of the noise code declared unconstitutional, and compensatory damages.
They are represented by Steve Taylor of Chesapeake, Va.