FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Tuesday, December 5, 2006
CONTACT: Whitney Potter, Communications Manager, ACLU-NM
PHONE: (505) 266 5915 ext. 1003 or (505) 507 9898 (cellular)
ALBUQUERQUE, NM—The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico announced it would take legal action against an Albuquerque homeowner’s association if it made good on a threat to fine an Albuquerque couple for projecting a sign that said “Impeach Bush” on the side of their home. The Seven Bar North Homeowner’s Association told Roberto and Linda Vasquez their sign violated a restrictive covenant implying a possible fine. Since the couple began displaying the sign on their home in late August the sign has been shot at with firearms, neighbors have verbally assaulted the couple regarding the political message of the sign, and other neighbors have attempted to photograph the sign while trespassing on the Vasquez’s property.
“The Vasquezes continue in their desire to be good neighbors in Seven Bar North, but they refuse to relinquish their right to free speech,” said Nancy Hollander, ACLU-NM Cooperating Attorney.
The Vasquezes use a device to project the 3x3 foot message on their home that reads “Impeach Bush.” Other homes in the neighborhood use similar devices to display holiday-related messages, such as “Happy Halloween.” Campaign signs were also prominently displayed last fall prior to Election Day. The ACLU of New Mexico is not aware of any violation being issued against the owners of these homes.
“This disparate treatment ofthe Vasquezes raises serious concerns that the Homeowner’s Association is trying to stifle protected speech because it doesn’t like the political opinion being expressed,” said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU-NM.