ACLU sues Rhode Island town after resident ordered to take down signs critical of local government

Michael DiPaola recently erected several signs calling out “perceived selective and corrupt code enforcement."

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island has sued Portsmouth on behalf of a resident who’s been ordered to take down signs on his property that are critical of the town.

Resident Michael DiPaola has been feuding with the town for years over building code enforcement and recently erected several signs about what the ACLU calls “perceived selective and corrupt code enforcement.”

The town says DiPaola violated the town’s zoning ordinance, failed to obtain a required permit to display the signs, was not allowed to display political signs, and violated a ban on signs that could be distracting to motorists. He was told he could be fined $500 per day unless he removed the signs.


ACLU attorney Richard Sinapi said the town is violating DiPaola’s First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the ordinance, and compensatory damages.

Town Administrator Richard Rainer Jr. said he could not comment on ongoing litigation.

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