Group challenges law banning I-90 overpass protests

In this photo provided by the Thomas More Law Center protesters assemble on an Interstate 90 overpass in the town of Campbell, Wis. The town subsequently adopted an ordinance banning signs on the overpass, leading to a bitter dispute between a local tea party activist and Campbell Police Chief Tim Kelemen.  Associated Press

You’ve probably seen the occasional person standing on a freeway overpass waving an American flag or carrying a sign and waving at passing motorists. Is that free speech?

An Illinois man says it is and he’s challenging a 2013 ordinance that bans demonstrations on a pedestrian bridge crossing I-90 along the Mississippi River near La Crosse, Wis., the La Crosse Tribune reports today.

Frederick Schneider, a national leader of the conservative group Overpasses for America, is suing La Crosse County, claiming sheriff’s deputies violated his civil rights when deputies rousted protesters on the bridge in Campbell last October.

Schneider and several others displayed American flags and signs, including one that stated “Police lives matter,” on the overpass to protest the ordinance that bans such demonstrations, the Tribune says.

It’s the second federal suit challenging the ordinance, which survived its first court case when a judge ruled it constitutional.

During the October demonstration, drivers complained to police that it created traffic hazards, including distracting drivers navigating the interstate construction, vehicles honking on the roadway and a near collision, the Tribune reported.