Dear PoP – Church Protests – Free Speech or Disturbing the Peace?

by Prince Of Petworth March 29, 2010 at 9:10 pm 55 Comments


“Dear PoP,

You have featured the Ethiopian Orthodox Church located at 4100 Illinois Ave on a couple occasions on your site and my issue is related to it. Every Sunday, from around 8am to 1pm, services are offered at this Church. During these services, a pickup truck with a variety of placards parks directly in front or across the Street from this Church. Along with the placards the trucks emits very loud music as well as political slogans. I can’t be certain of what the slogans translate to, as I’m not familiar with the language, however I can only assume that they echo the slogans on the placards… Things like “Election Fraud in Ethiopia” or “Don’t Let American Moral Value Die” or “Ethiopia Leadership is Dictatorship with Blood Stained Hands.”

Now, I’m all for all types of religion and freedom of speech, but the music/slogans are incredibly loud and can be heard throughout the entire neighborhood not to mention in all parts of my house. I tried to speak with the person in the truck but we had a language barrier and when i motioned to turn down the loudspeaker, he said no with a smile. Fine. So I called 4D and inquired about the legality of this…Mind you, I have no deep knowledge in law (i have seen how this community has lambasted fellow posters when assuming application of law) but I thought perhaps this would fall under disturbing the peace or at least not having a proper permit for protesting.

Let me be clear that I really don’t mind, in fact I enjoy, when the Church has celebrations occasionally in honor of religious holidays and weddings. However, these protests are a weekly occurrence and have reached my nerves.  I’m sure other members of my street will complain about the foot traffic, litter, the fact that the truck blocks one lane of traffic, and lack of parking when the church has services – me I just want my peace and quiet.

So, as i was saying, I called 4D and was told by Officer Grant that because the protest was in front of a Church, they didn’t need a permit. When I re-iterated that it was in a residential neighborhood and in front of my house he again told me that they didn’t need a permit. When I asked if there was anything the constituents could do to address this issue, he flatly said “no, sorry.”

So, would be interested in the community’s thoughts on this…any advice? Am I being ridiculous? Also would be interested if people think this affects property value?”

Hmm, very interesting question. If I lived next door I think it would drive me crazy. I do live fairly close but fortunately don’t recall hearing the truck (though I have seen it before). What would you guys do if you lived on this block? Do you think it should be legal for this truck to blast slogans every Sunday? Does this city have no power in enforcing a reasonable decibel level?



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