FRISCO, Texas — Cell phone video shot by 33-year-old Ron Martin shows two Frisco police officers handcuffing him. He was arrested for holding a sign that read ‘police ahead’ to warn drivers of a speed trap. It wasn’t his first time doing it, but it was his first time getting arrested for it.
“They pulled up right here, and said put your sign down. I put it down to my side. I didn’t want to drop it because I didn’t want to be littering,” said Martin.
Frisco police charged him with violating the city’s human sign ordinance, a Class C Misdemeanor. The ordinance requires people holding signs to be on private property. Martin was standing in the median in the middle of El Dorado Parkway.
Martin says the rule shouldn’t apply to him, because he isn’t a business.
“I don’t own a business called ‘police ahead.’ I’m not promoting any sales or anything like that,” said Martin.
Martin claims he’s seen officers in unmarked cars driving dangerously on the streets around his neighborhood while working traffic enforcement. He says he wants the city to put up signs warning drivers of high traffic enforcement areas. He claims it’s for the drivers’ safety. He decided to hold his own sign, in an effort to keep drivers safe, because the city hasn’t installed signs.
“Obviously it works. It slows people down, which is the same thing officers are saying that they’re doing out here. I don’t see it as a threat to anybody,” said Martin.
Frisco police won’t comment on the case other than to say it’s been filed. The department released a statement Friday saying, in part:
“There is plenty of opportunity to second guess the actions of a police officer and an entire police department after the final judgement is rendered.”
Martin is fighting the charge. For him, it’s a matter of principle. He feels the sign is his right to free speech.
“I could easily just pay a fine and just be on with myself and just take an arrest and have it on my record, but knowing in my heart that I was truly trying to help out, I just can’t bring myself to do that and accept something like that,” said Martin.
Martin is now collecting money for an attorney with an IndieGoGo campaign.