Hamburg man in court over 1st Amendment issues

SAFE Act Sign Causes Controversy

March 7, 2014 Updated Mar 7, 2014 at 1:11 PM EDT

By WKBW News

March 7, 2014 Updated Mar 7, 2014 at 1:11 PM EDT

HAMBURG (WKBW) Hamburg resident Scott Zawierucha was in town court on Friday, all over a sign hanging on his backyard fence in opposition to the New York SAFE Act.

The sign reads: "NY is not S.A.F.E. Stop Cuomo Preserve Your Rights"

"There's 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," Zawierucha said.

Yet a law on the books in the town makes it illegal, since it faces away from his property. So the building inspector cited Zawierucha and gave him a court summons.

SAFE Act protesters joined outside and inside the courtroom before the hearing, standing in solidarity with Zawierucha.

"Just to get the message out show our support, and stand up for our first amendment rights," President of SCOPE, a gun rights group, Stephen Aldstadt said.

Inside the courtroom, the judge recused himself since his son is the town attorney. The case will now be moved to a nearby town within the next few weeks.

"We will make a motion in the new court to dismiss on the grounds that the ordinance in unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment," Zawierucha's attorney James Ostrowski said.

In the meantime, Hamburg Town Supervisor Steven Walters says the Town Board will take a look at the ordinance and see if it needs changing.

"If the law has created unintended consequences, we're going to take a look at that and we're going to get it changed," Walters said.

And Zawierucha and his attorney say they're not done fighting.

"I think most of the case law is in our favor and we're confident that we will prevail," Ostrowski said.

"I'm not taking it down. I mean, if they're going to push this thing, I didn't start this war" Zawierucha added.

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