ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Protesters dressed like chickens and the character Gumby on Friday to openly voice their disdain for St. Johns County's ordinance banning sign-wavers.
They gathered at U.S. 1 and State Road 312 during rush hour traffic to protest the county's ban on people who spin and wave signs to promote businesses, a common practice in nearby counties like Duval and Clay.
The debate started after a well-known sign-waver, Jeff Cappalletti, moved to St. Johns County. When the government shut him down, other sign-wavers came to St. Johns from Jacksonville to defend him.
Cappalletti has worked in Clay and Duval counties, but he said when he set up in St. Augustine Beach on Wednesday, the county shut him down.
"This is to protest against code enforcement," Cappalletti said. "Because it was a violation of my First Amendment rights."
Cappalletti is getting support from someone who could conceivably change this ordinance in the future. Denver Cook is running for St. Johns County Commission and said he supports the sign-wavers.
"I think the sign (ban) is an overreach of government authority and represses free speech here in the county," Cook said. "I addressed the County Commission this past Tuesday in their regular meeting about this very issue as it's related to political signs."
A St. Johns County official told News4Jax that "it's a safety issue" and the government doesn't want sign-wavers in St. Johns because "in today's world there are enough distractions for motorists, including cellphones and excessive traffic."
Cappalletti said he plans to file a lawsuit against the county, saying banning him from waving signs is a violation of his rights.