WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– Westfield’s mayor is appealing a federal judge’s ruling that he violated his political opponents’ First Amendment rights.
A Westfield City Councilor, a municipal light board candidate, and a property owner filed the lawsuit against Mayor Daniel Knapik for an incident that happened back in 2011. In his ruling, Federal Judge Michael Ponsor said Knapik ordered political signs to be removed from a tree belt at East Silver Street and Lindbergh Boulevard, though a nonpolitical sign remained on the land.
The judge stated, “It is clear from the undisputed facts that Defendant Knapik’s removal of the signs… constituted a content-based restriction of free speech” in violation of both our federal and state constitutions.
Mayor Knapik argued that he ordered all signs removed because they were a hazard to drivers, but the judge said that the incident was a free speech violation because the commercial sign remained standing.
The judge did not rule on whether the tree belt in question was city property or private property, saying that it something that should be left for a jury to decide.