Veteran Arrested for Holding 'God Bless the Homeless Vets' Sign Fights Back in a Big Way
An Army veteran has filed federal lawsuits against officials in two Georgia cities for allegedly infringing on his First Amendment rights, according to the man’s attorneys.
Lawyers for Jeff Gray filed lawsuits Tuesday in connection with incidents in Alpharetta and Blackshear, Georgia, in which Gray held cardboard signs that read, “God Bless the Homeless Vets.”
The intent of the suits is “to protect the First Amendment right to speak outside government buildings,” according to a Wednesday post on the website of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, whose lawyers are representing Gray.
The Alpharetta lawsuit is against the city and two of its police officers. The Blackshear suit is against the police chief.
Gray, who calls himself “a First Amendment auditor,” has been conducting what he calls “civil rights investigations” since 2011, according to FIRE.
He “peacefully asserts his rights in towns across the southeastern U.S. and documents whether government officials understand and respect citizens’ rights,” according to his legal team.
In other words, Gray holds signs outside government buildings and films officials’ reactions. He has posted dozens of the confrontations on his “HonorYourOath” YouTube channel.
“He posts both positive and negative interactions with police to ensure that law enforcement honor their oath to ‘support and defend’ the Constitution,” the FIRE post said.
Some of Gray’s previous confrontations have included more confrontational — and controversial — messages than “God Bless the Homeless Vets.”
In 2019, he was arrested in Moultrie, Georgia, on a disorderly conduct charge for holding a sign that said “F*** City Hall,” the Moultrie Observer reported.
When a Moultrie city official came out to discuss what his issue with the city was, “Gray said he didn’t have an issue; he just wanted to assert his right to freedom of speech,” the Observer reported. The charges against Gray were soon dropped, the news outlet said.
Another time, Gray filmed himself outside the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida holding a sign with a vulgar description of the law enforcement agency.
He claimed in the video he was there to defend the free speech rights of a citizen who had been arrested by a deputy for displaying an explicit bumper sticker.
Gray also has arranged similar video confrontations that tested police officers’ reactions to citizens exercising their rights to open-carry firearms.
In addition, he frequently posts videos of his Sunday morning visits to places of worship, filming church members’ reactions to him standing outside with his “God Bless the Homeless Vets” sign and criticizing the churches if they summon the police to complain about him.
“I have been harassed, trespassed, handcuffed and arrested countless times for peacefully exercising my First Amendment rights,” Gray said in the FIRE post.
“My intention is to ensure that all Americans from the wealthiest millionaire to the poorest homeless person can exercise these rights without fear of consequence from our government,” he said.
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