orgia sheriff was in federal district court Thursday (Oct. 24) defending his decision to post signs in front of sex offenders’ homes warning trick-or-treaters not to approach.
Three sex offenders have filed suit against Butts County, Ga., sheriff Gary Long because he posted signs in front of 200 registered sex offenders’ homes in 2018 warning trick-or-treaters not to approach the properties. The plaintiffs are trying to prevent Long from posting the signs again in 2019 and beyond.
“Stop. Warning. No Trick-Or-Treat At This Address!!” the signs read, with the qualifier, “A community safety message from Butts County Sheriff Gary Long.” Long specified his reasoning with a public notice on the sheriff’s office Facebook page informing readers of the lawsuit.
Long and others, in their answer to the complaint, claim they legally posted the signs.
“Plaintiffs’ relevant First Amendment rights in this context are diminished by the pervasive government regulation applicable to sexual offenders, and any burden on any plaintiff’s alleged First Amendment right(s) was … outweighed,” the court document reads, “by the compelling government interest in protecting vulnerable members of the public from sexual offenders…. (The state has a strong interest in preventing future sexual offenses and alerting local law enforcement and citizens to the whereabouts of those that could reoffend).”
Long also pledged on Facebook to protect children from sex offenders.
“Regardless of the Judge’s ruling this Thursday, I WILL do everything within the letter of the Law to protect the children of this Community,” said Long, who has held his post since 2013.