Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Woman Must Remove 'Messages From God'

A woman who has covered her roof and property with painted slogans she calls messages from God has been ordered to remove them or face possible fines or jail time.

The San Mateo City Council unanimously ruled last week that Estrella Benavides' writings violate city codes regulating the size of signs. The writings allege vast government conspiracies, among other warnings.

Benavides, 47, who also broadcasts the messages from a loudspeaker on her car's roof, has said the messages come to her from God through a statue at her church and from the Bible.
She claims the city's ruling violates her free speech rights.

"They're telling me based on the San Mateo sign code that I'm violating the law," Benavides said. "I'm telling them based on the U.S. Constitution that their sign code violates the law."

The council ruling orders Benavides to remove the slogans or face fines of $50 a day starting late next month. If she refuses to remove them or pay the fines, the city will sue her or file criminal charges, City Attorney Shawn Mason said.

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