Sunday, August 19, 2007

Charges against ‘highway blogger’ who held an “impeach Bush, Cheney” sign from a bridge will change
Charges against ‘highway blogger’ will change
By Adam Behsudi

ASHEVILLE — Police said Thursday that it would change charges against a man who held an “impeach Bush, Cheney” sign from a bridge over Interstate 240.

Jonas Phillips, a 35-year-old West Asheville resident, said he had recently taken up “highway blogging,” a protest practice of displaying signs of political discontent from highway overpasses.

Police cited him Wednesday for obstructing the sidewalk but said Thursday a N.C. Department of Transportation violation would be more fitting.

Phillips said he had the signed propped on the Haywood Road bridge railing over I-240.

He had not been charged with the new violation, a class 1 misdemeanor, by late Thursday night.

“The intent was public safety and the banner being a hazard,” Asheville police Capt. Wade Wood said. “That’s basically to the benefit of the motoring public.”

Wood said there was a possibility of the sign falling on motorists below. The sign had not been returned pending court proceedings, he said.

Phillips said he was not blocking the sidewalk while holding his 5-by-1 foot sign. He said he was aware of that ordinance and not trying to break it.

Police gave him no warning to move before putting him under arrest, Phillips said.

“I don’t want people in Asheville to be scared of protesting,” he said. “I wasn’t asking for trouble.”