Little Falls woman sues city after she's ordered to take down pro-Occupy yard signs

Categories: Law
hensel signs.jpg
The city ordered Hensel to remove her pro-Occupy, anti-Republican yard signs.
Robin Hensel, a 58-year-old grandmother, filed a lawsuit this week against the city of Little Falls alleging the city is unfairly enforcing its yard-sign ordinance because it disagrees with her political views.

Last fall, the city received a complaint about the pro-Occupy, anti-Republican yard signs in Hensel's yard. The city's complaint-driven, yard-sign ordinance forbids residents from having numerous political signs in their yard.

In February, to retaliate, Hensel pointed out that a number of other signs around the city -- including a prominent "We Support Our Troops" banner on a bank downtown that requires but hadn't received approval by the city's historic preservation commission -- also violated city ordinance. In her federal lawsuit, she alleges the city is selectively enforcing its ordinance and violating her constitutional right to free speech.

Hensel has some high-powered attorneys in her corner -- she's being represented by Paladin Law's Larry Frost and former Reagan Administration justice department official Bruce Fein.

Says the lawsuit:
robin hensel.jpg
Robin Hensel
The city of Little Falls has no excuse in law for wrongfully harassing a 58-year-old grandmother because she colorfully expressed an unpopular viewpoint on her own property. And that is exactly what the defendant city did. Indeed, at every turn, the defendants brandished their government authority to suppress or burden the plaintiff's viewpoints because of hostility to their ideas and to facilitate and promote viewpoints they found agreeable.
Frost, in an interview with the Brainerd Dispatch, said he doesn't agree with Hensel's viewpoints, "but I agree in the right of free speech."

He added that the city "has no reason why they should limit the political points of view. Little Falls is so far out in left field that you can't see them from home plate."
little falls sign.jpg
Hensel alleges the city selectively enforced its ordinance in tolerating this banner.

Hensel claims she received death threats after she complained about the "We Support Our Troops" banner. Little Falls is located near Camp Ripley, the largest military base in Minnesota, and many of the residents have military connections. Hensel said she decided to retire as a foster grandmother after receiving a threat that "the children in your home will not be safe."

Little Falls officials, for their part, have refused to comment on the lawsuit.

Hensel is seeking a judgment declaring the city ordinance unconstitutional, and damages for violations of her First Amendment rights.

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This is what's wrong with America today. Even former Regan administration officials agree.

I would support someone's right if it were to display I hate occupy protester signs, but many people get into a frenzy and view free speech as something good only if it is aligned with their own views. Censorship of ideas is not in the constitusion and is dangerous...often leading to fashist extremism if this kind of unthinking is unchecked.


This woman should have a right to display her signs in her own yard.

But could everyone stop attaching the "grandmother" signifier to her?  She's 58.  It's not like she's some frail old lady.  Calling attention to the fact that she's a grandmother is a pretty bald-faced attempt to engender sympathy for her, and it distracts from the simple fact that she's a citizen whose speech rights are being infringed.  She shouldn't have a right to display signs just because she's a grandma; she should have the right because she lives in goddamned Amurghicah!


The Great American Citizens are defending FREEDOM and LIBERTY.

Just not for you...


Ok, to sue to change the law because it's unconstitutional, and to sue for attorney fees, sure. For damages though?  Now you're being selfish.


you are absolutely right. if president bush can and others can express their ideas about a new world order and present us with the patriot act via planned attacks against our country why can t we express our dislike towards those who try to enslave us.

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