MO: Hazelwood man’s Halloween displays were lavish. A sex offender law forced him to quit

Source: 10/9/23

ST. LOUIS — Thomas Sanderson’s Halloween festivities were a neighborhood tradition.

For more than two decades, the Hazelwood resident put together a “lavish display” featuring animatronic figures and creatures, lights, music, fog machines, a bonfire and — of course — candy.

But on Halloween in 2022, a half-dozen police cars descended upon Sanderson’s property and asked to search his home.

Sanderson had been convicted of a sex offense in 2006, and police argued he had violated a state law that prohibits people on the sex offender registry from interacting with children. He also hadn’t posted a required sign stating, “No candy or treats at this residence.”
Now, just weeks before Halloween, Sanderson has filed a lawsuit seeking to throw out the sign requirement. His attorneys say it is an “arbitrary, politically motivated act” that violates Sanderson’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

“The Halloween sign posting mandate compels (Sanderson), his family and all registrants to use their own property as billboards for the government’s false message that they pose a risk to children on Halloween,” the suit says.

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Half dozen police cars for a sign? Pathetic.

Let me get this right. The poor man had displayed his Halloween decoration for decades. No kids have been harmed during that time. Neighbors must have not known he was on the registry, or they did not care. Does not really matter anyways as there was never a threat from this person, and nobody felt their kids were in danger. Even the fire department came by to enjoy this great show. Either way, the registry did nothing to protect children. The police and an overzealous AG take it upon themselves to arrest this guy??? For what reason? He caused no harm to anyone and seems to be well liked by the majority of his community. Isn’t that the ultimate goal for any law enforcement to have law abiding citizens living a peaceful life? Obviously, that is not their goal. What a bunch of BS this is. I hope he gets a huge chunk from this lawsuit. Let this be a lesson to other privileged government employees. More people should sue. We have over a million people (and growing) on the registry. Something’s gotta give. 😡

Judgeing from the comments on the article, a lot of people are so fixated on the “sex offender” aspect, that they completely ignore the real, prevalent issue of “compelled speech”, as well as suppression of “freedom of expression”, with absolutely no supporting evidence that barring anyone from celebrating a specific holiday, or forcing them to identity themselves as somehow “dangerous” to children, contributes, in any way, to public safety (rather, the exact opposite, in fact). They just like the idea that certain kind of individuals can have their liberties sumarily stripped away, and become easily identifiable targets for harassment, vandalism, and/or violence.

Last edited 8 months ago by nameless

So let me understand something….the government claims he’s a risk to the neighborhood kids, but he’s out in public every day and no one bats an eye. If he, or others, pose such a risk to the community, then why are they not in prison? Oh, because they already served their time and are productive members of society.
You want to know what a real risk is? The guy who lives 2 doors down from me who has a beer in his hand from the moment he wakes up in the morning until he goes to bed at night. When he runs out of beer he gets in his car and drives to the liquor store for more. But I guess PFRs who are minding their own business pose more of a risk than people like my neighbor.

I’m from California and I wouldn’t decorate my house for Halloween, When your on the registry you don’t wanna attract any unwanted attention to yourself.
So now he’s fighting felony registry violations and filing a lawsuit, Daam all that for what ? And because it’s obviously politically motivated he’s not going to win in court he’s most likely going to prison for some lame azz Halloween decorations

In my humble opinion Mr. Sanderson’s story should be considered a success: 2 decades having lavish Halloween decorations, candy handed out by the fire department, and no child being harmed by Mr. Sanderson. I guess 2 decades isn’t enough to appease Pitchforkville.