Sidney Elyea could have been required to pay two $100 fines for hanging the posters in December in violation of a city ordinance and causing a stir in the Somali community and St. Cloud at large.
The ruling by Russell Cherne, a St. Cloud lawyer who served as an administrative law judge in this case, says that Elyea “blatantly violated two counts” of the St. Cloud ordinance but has been “selectively prosecuted.” Cherne said the city has never issued a citation in hundreds of previous violations of the ordinance and has usually issued cease and desist orders. Cherne ordered the city to issue Elyea a cease-and-desist order.
“There is no question that the city of St. Cloud pursued this ordinance violation based on the impermissible consideration of Mr. Elyea exercising his right to free speech due to the understandable outrage of concerned St. Cloud residents,”
Cherne wrote that if the city issues the letter and Elyea posts items within St. Cloud again, he will consider a separate violation for each posting.
Elyea has always acknowledged he hung as many as 10 posters in St. Cloud and Waite Park including near the Islamic Center and a Somali-owned business. His lawyer argued in a June 24 hearing before Cherne that the city would not have issued the citations had Elyea hung a sign about a garage sale or a lost pet.
The city acknowledged that it normally issues cease and desist orders first but what made this case different was the public complaints.
Source: St. Cloud Times