Yard Sign Arrest

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 12:39pm

Kansas man jailed after posting sign criticizing local officials.

Jarrod West of Valley Center, Kansas was cuffed, fingerprinted, booked into the Sedgwick County Jail and released on bail.

His crime: putting up a yard sign critical of the Valley Center city administrator.

West is out on bail, but still facing criminal defamation charges for a sign he put in his front yard about persistent flooding issues he says cost him over $50,000 over the last three years.

The sign says: "Dear Valley Center, I did not buy Lake Front Property! Fix this problem. This is what I pay taxes for. PS. Joel this means you!"

The "Joel" in question is City Administrator Joel Pile.

"They want me to shut up and go away," said West. "I've got a home to protect. It's nothing fancy, but it's mine."

When Pile saw the sign West was arrested and booked into the Sedgwick County Jail on a criminal charge of defamation.

He spent the night behind bars and is now free on a $10,000 bond.

"I think it's an ego trip for somebody and I think somebody's abusing their ego and authority," said West.

"We've advised him of the process to come through the City Council," Pile said.

Pile stands behind the criminal charge, saying West has acted with malice in criticizing him and he's been told any action to alleviate flooding has to come from the City Council.

"People and individuals have an absolute right to free speech," said Pile, "However, when they do it and continue to do it within the realms of what we believe is actual malice for the purpose of holding me accountable to the public we believe that crosses a line."

Pile says the city will drop the charges against West if he stops blaming Pile for the flooding issues on his property.

West says he's yet to hear from the city attorney about the charges being dropped.

He's scheduled to make a court appearance on the misdemeanor charge Wednesday.

Believing his civil liberties have been violated, The American Civil Liberties Union has agreed to help West if the case continues.

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