JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - A Jacksonville Beach woman says her right to freedom of speech is being denied by the city after she was told artwork hanging on her fence violates city code.
The woman, Sonja Fitch, 68, says she has become a target because of her political views and claims police are not taking threats against her seriously.
She has lived at her home on 9th Street in Jacksonville Beach for five years. A Clay County native and retired school teacher, Fitch has dedicated her life to activism and has begun what she calls a peaceful protest that involves Fitch hanging satirical art on her fence.
Not everyone enjoys her heavily political artistic expression. Fitch says because it's in opposition of President Donald Trump.
Fitch says she began making the art in May 2015, and since then she has become a target for threats and foul remarks from people passing by.
"It's just unbelievably filthy stuff," Fitch says.
Fed up, Fitch says she complained to city leaders and the Jacksonville Beach Police Department.
"The Jacksonville city beach police told me on three different occasions that, that was acceptable free speech to counter my free speech on my fence," Fitch claims.
She says tensions boiled over recently when she was physically threatened by a neighbor.
"He hovered over me and pushed me into the fence," Fitch claimed.
Fitch says she called police but says they did not take the confrontation seriously.
First Coast News went by the neighbors home. Although a truck was outside, no one answered to the door.
Another neighbor, Martha Backer, says she loves Fitch's artwork because Fitch is what makes Jacksonville Beach a special place to live. However, Backer says she fears for her neighbor's safety, but says she does not want Fitch to stop doing what she believes in.
Fitch says she's been summoned to a special magistrate hearing as city leaders claim she is violating the cities temporary signs code.
A date and time for that meeting has not been set.
We've reached out to the city and the Jacksonville Beach Police Department for comment. We will update this story when we hear back.
Fitch says she'll continue to express herself, "This is my peaceful protest. I want to be heard. So, this is how I'm doing it."
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