Thursday, May 20, 2010

St. Louis County Man Gets Jail and Fine Over Yard

A retired art teacher in Ballwin was sentenced to 20 days in jail Monday after he refused to make changes to art pieces in his front yard that the court and city officials have deemed dangerous.

Lewis Greenberg, 66, was convicted in October in St. Louis County Court of two counts of city ordinance violations for littering and storing hazardous materials. Judge Lawrence Permuter ordered Greenberg to clean up the property or face penalty. But on Monday, Greenberg told the court he had no plans to comply. Permuter ordered jail time plus a $1,000 fine.

For years, Greenberg’s wood, plastic, steel and aluminum structures have vexed neighbors in the Whispering Oakwood subdivision. He has said the works are a statement on the Holocaust.

His attorney, David Howard, has argued that Greenberg’s art is no different than holiday lights or a birdbath. He said the city is trying to remove Greenberg’s art because it offends others and is thus violating his constitutional right to free speech.

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