by Taylor Hudak
(Oberlin, Ohio) – A free Julian Assange activist is facing a misdemeanor charge for hanging signs on public utility poles in support of the WikiLeaks founder.
Andrew Smith, 28, of Elyria was cited on Saturday afternoon June 29 for hanging signs reading “Free Julian Assange,” “Free Speech Free Press” and others with similar messages.
As Smith was stapling a free Julian sign to a utility pole in front of a convenient store, a police officer driving by slowed down and shouted at Smith to stop what he was doing.
With staple gun in hand, the 28-year-old turns to look at the officer and then continues to staple the poster.
The officer proceeds into the convenient store parking lot and orders Smith to empty his pockets. Meanwhile, two additional police cars arrive at the scene.
After a brief exchange concerning the law, the officer orders Smith to get into the back of the vehicle.
Meanwhile, a woman accompanying Smith, Taylor Hudak, 26, of Kent was told she may leave. However, Hudak remained at the site and took photographs on her cell phone as the incident unfolded.
While Smith was in the police vehicle, he continued to speak with the officer explaining to her his political ideology and reason for posting signs. The officer responded to him saying she did not understand.
After several minutes sitting in the police vehicle, Smith was issued a citation for violating Oberlin City Ordinance 503.02 Advertising on Public Property.
Smith appeared in Oberlin Municipal Court on Friday July 5 at 8:30 a.m. and plead not guilty. He will return to court for a pretrial hearing on Aug. 18.