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Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2019 @ 12:00 AM
MIDDLETOWN — The attorney representing a Middletown man who was arrested and charged after he allegedly generated unreasonable noise during the city’s Pride event last month said he will challenge the city’s ordinance.
Attorney Thomas Condit and his client, John M. Williams, 42, of Middletown, appeared Tuesday morning before Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron, and the final pre-trial hearing was set for Aug. 6 with a possible jury trial scheduled for Aug. 22.
After appearing in court, Condit told the Journal-News that “based on facts,” Williams didn’t violate the city’s ordinance. It says, in part: “No person shall generate or permit to be generated unreasonable noise or loud sounds which is likely to cause inconvenience or annoyance to persons or ordinary sensibilities, by means of a radio, phonograph, television, tape or disc player, loudspeaker or any sound-amplifying device, or by means of any horn, drum, piano or other musical or percussion instrument.”
Williams was arrested June 21 before the second annual Pride rally in downtown Middletown. He was charged with a loud noise violation, a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge, after Sgt. Cris Kelly said he could hear Williams more than 100 feet away.
Condit said Williams was holding the amplified megaphone and wasn’t speaking. He said the ordinance is “vague” and it doesn’t give citizens “fair notice what a crime is.”
He also questioned what it means to be “heard” more than 100 feet away. He said surrounding noise could impact the distance a voice carries so how could someone know if they’re breaking the law.
“What’s the point of the ordinance?” Condit asked. “It’s all free speech stuff. You start eliminating free speech.”
This is the second time Williams has been confronted by police about his behavior at city events. In July 2014, Williams was warned against using a device to preach during a Broad Street Bash, a downtown concert series. In June 2015, the U.S. District Court of Southern District of Ohio ruled the City of Middletown had “unconstitutionally banned” Williams from “engaging in religious speech.”