Good Samaritan Silenced in Idaho
By C. Petherick
He says he only wanted to inform neighbors about child molesters, who may be living in their neighborhood. That’s why L.D. Bryson put signs in front of his house in Osburn, Ida ho, informing parents that they may have sex offenders living among them.
But local law enforcement didn’t see it that way. So when Bryson refused to take them down, he was arrested. Bryson is now demanding $1 million from authorities for violating his First Amendment rights. “They threatened my mom and dad if we didn’t take the signs down,” Bryson told Associated Press.
But it gets worse. By court order, Bryson has even been forced to move to a nearby town and cannot return to his house in Osburn until the matter has been settled.
It all started in August 2005 when Bryson placed eight signs on his front lawn that read: “Do you have a level 3 [convicted sex offender] neighbor?” and “Are your kids safe?”
Following alleged complaints from neighbors, police confronted Bryson about the signs, asking him to remove them. When he refused, he was arrested and was charged with libel. He spent a day in jail, and is facing fines and jail-time per sign.
Bryson has filed his own lawsuit against the city of Osburn and local police, arguing city officials harassed him and violated his First Amendment rights.
Bryson said he put the signs up after a high-profile case in which a convicted sex offender had murdered the parents and older brother of a 9-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl in the Coeur d’Alene area, then kidnapped the kids. The girl was found alive, but police were too late to save her brother.
Police said some neighbors had complained that the signs gave the wrong impression of the neighborhood, implying that a sex offender was living there. Bryson said the signs were on private property, and that he was making a political statement. It didn’t matter that some people thought they were distasteful. Bryson said he has removed all but one sign from his property, but will pursue his lawsuit up to the federal level unless a settlement can be arranged.