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“Islam Bloody Islam” billboard in St. Augustine stays, protected by First Amendment

A St. Johns County official says that controversial billboard in St. Augustine Beach denouncing Islam will stay, because it’s protected under the First Amendment.

An online petition demanding the removal of the billboard in St. Augustine Beach is gaining signatures worldwide. In fact, of the 24,000 plus signatures, only a few thousand are from here in Florida.

The billboard reads “Islam Bloody Islam: Doomed by Its Doctrine.”

Petition creator Becky Williams says she started the drive because “We should always stand up for those in our community who are shown hatred and intolerance. We should be outraged that a billboard with this message could in any way represent our community as a whole. It is of the utmost importance that we stand against messages and movements that isolate, judge and threaten an entire sect of people who share our same hometown.”

However, Michael Ryan, director of communications for St. Johns County, says the billboard, while bearing a controversial message that has caused offense, is protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to free speech.

Meanwhile, the billboard owner has declined on-camera interviews.

Written By

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at m.ross66211@gmail.com.

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