First Amendment Writing on the Wall

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues

Graffiti Home Protected By First Amendment
by Marshall Zelinger
October 27, 2008 10:29 PM, updated October 28, 2008

Your First Amendment Rights At Issue

Colorado Springs – How far is too far when expressing your First Amendment rights? Rienet van der Linde lives on Pyrite Terrace on the west side of Colorado Springs. She’s written on her home, like graffiti. Letting anyone who wants to read it know that she lost her job and she’s unhappy with her former employer.

“This is the house I’m living in and this is the place I can say whatever I want to,” says van der Linde, who’s home is in foreclosure.

At first, her neighbors were concerned for van der Linde’s health. Police were called to her house for a welfare check four times since October 18th. Some of her neighbors say they’re concerned for traffic accidents because of the writing on van der Linde’s walls. Her home is along Rio Grande Street between 21st Street and Lower Gold Camp Road.

“There’s been too many cars that are literally slamming on their brakes from the 35 mph posted speed limit to completely stopping and looking at the side of her house,” says neighbor Jennifer Mendez. “Cars are swerving. Cars are going around other cars. Cars have almost hit other cars.”

“Actually, they drive too fast on this road anyway,” says van der Linde.

“We’re just curious, trying to understand it,” says driver Joe Towns.

“It’s like when you stop to see a car wreck, it’s just the curiosity,” says passenger Samantha Towns.

van der Linde isn’t breaking any laws or code. Since it’s her property and she’s not advertising anything, her graffiti isn’t illegal. There’s no HOA in the community, so she’s not violating any homeowners’ rules.

“Even though it is her property something should be done about it,” says Mendez. “For us that have our houses on the market and for those that are planning to, it’s not helping us out.”

“It is a spectacle unfortunately,” says neighbor Jennifer Picard.

Neighbors have offered to paint her home, but van der Linde isn’t interested.

“No, it’s my First Amendment,” says van der Linde.