[Updated] I just violated a city of McAllen ordinance but it feels like what was really violated were my rights

Protesting wage theft outside Wilson Construction in McAllen today, the police told us we can’t use megaphones or chant because of a city ordinance. We asked if a mother was on one side of the street and called to her child on the other, would that be a violation of the ordinance? The police responded, yes. If you think that’s ridiculous and a violation of our first amendment rights, you could share this. Totally your call though.

This is us violating the city ordinance:

So it looks like the offending ordinance is Article V, section 46 of the city code. Read it here or check out my take below.

The purpose of the ordinance seems to be addressing public disturbances (“It shall be unlawful for any person… to create a disturbance within the city…”) Disturbance is defined as “such noise as offends the hearing sensibilities or the peace, rest, quiet and response of an ordinary, normal person lawfully in the vicinity of the origin of the noise, provided that such noise is not reasonably necessary to the enjoyment and protection of life and indispensable to the progress of society in the city.”

Specific acts prohibited include “Screaming, shouting, hollering or yelling.” Also prohibited is the use of “a radio, jukebox, phonograph, musical instrument, orchestra, public address system or other means” to cause a disturbance.

It sounds to me like receiving pay for the work you do AND using your free speech rights are both “indispensable to the progress of society in the city.” Let me know your thoughts in the comments or by sharing this on Twitter and tagging @jmtorr


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