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Reaction to rule about not arresting sign holders

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Posted: Monday, February 4, 2013 2:44 pm | Updated: 3:52 pm, Wed Feb 13, 2013.

SARASOTA, FL. - Sarasota's police chief has issued an order upholding a temporary injunction issued by a circuit judge regarding people holding signs.

As of Friday, the city of Sarasota and the police department are prohibited from addressing anyone holding any signage along city sidewalks or medians.

Many people we talked to Monday say they don't feel like people holding signs is a big problem in the city, however, while some say it's a matter of free speech, others say the injunction is too extreme.

Sarasota police are now prohibited from arresting, citing, or interfering with people on sidewalks or in street medians who are holding signs regardless of the message. Police can't even tell them to move along or leave the area.

This comes after the Sarasota Police Department came under fire after an officer arrested a homeless man who was holding a sign soliciting funds at an intersection.

People we talked to today say they feel it should depend on the situation.

“To hear that the police cannot even approach or talk to certain types of people is stupid. Just absolutely stupid in my mind. They have to talk to people to do their jobs and protect everybody else, says Dick Morgan.

“The right of free speech would be covered by that guarantee and regardless of what opinion they hold, they have a right to say it, says John Segal.

The only exception is if it's clear that the person holding the sign is creating an unsafe condition by obstructing traffic, and any exceptions must be thoroughly documented and witnesses noted.

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