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Activist’s lawsuit says City of Wentzville violated her free-speech rights

Sally Hunt escorted from Wentzville meeting

In a lawsuit filed April 12,  activist Sally Hunt accused the City of Wentzville of violation of her free-speech rights under the First Amendment. Hunt was removed from the February 14 Board of Aldermen meeting by order of the mayor after she spoke against the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST,” which was installed in the board chambers at the new city hall in large letters facing the speaker’s podium.

The lawsuit states that Hunt attended the February 14 meeting after speaking out against the sign on social media, resulting in Wentzville Mayor Nick Guccione blocking her from his official Facebook page. Hunt said that she filled out a speaker card, which listed her name, address, and speaking topic as “In God We Trust.” She was approved to speak.

Although speakers are allowed a five-minute time slot during the Open Forum, Mayor Guccione interrupted Hunt with 25 seconds left and told her that her time was up. Hunt thanked him.

Mayor Guccione then said, “Okay, okay, but I want to correct one thing” and went on to say that Hunt’s comments about the views of Wentzville residents were hearsay. Hunt responded and the two engaged in discussion. Mayor Guccione again stated that her time was up and that he was having her removed.

Hunt returned to her seat. The following video shows Hunt being escorted out of the chambers by two uniformed officers.

After leaving the chambers, the officers told Hunt that she had to leave the building entirely.

The lawsuit was filed with the United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division. Hunt is being represented by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Hunt is seeking nominal damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs.


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