Public Works Committee introduces anti-defacement ordinance

The Public Works Committee of the City of Bethel is introducing an ordinance that would make defacement of public property a crime punishable with a $1000 fine for each individual violation.

According to proposed Ordinance 20-07, it is unlawful for any person within the city to mar, injure, or deface any part of any public building, dumpster, or any other public property within the city. In this section, “deface” includes but is not limited to placing letters or symbols on public property that demean an ethnic, religious, or racial group, or that are otherwise vulgar, indecent, or have sexual connotations; any letters or symbols known by the City to have a sexual connotation or to be patently offensive to a person of ordinary sensibilities will be considered vulgar or indecent; any letters or symbols known by the City to be patently offensive to an ethnic, religious, or racial group will be considered demeaning to that group. Artwork on public property that is permitted by the City shall not be considered defacement. “Public property” is any real or tangible property owned or leased by the City.

“Recent events and incidents in both the City and the State have demonstrated a need for the city to ensure that city-owned property reflects the values of our community, while ensuring the public’s constitutional rights,” states Ord. 20-07.

This item is currently up for introduction on the consent agenda for the City’s March 9th, 2021 regular council meeting. Public hearing for the proposed ordinance will be held during the March 23rd, 2021 meeting.