Many bridges in the state have been covered for years in flags and signs of various kinds. Now there are new ones on bridges over Route 128 in the Lexington area. There are flags and signs saying “America! United we stand, divided we fall.” That’s a fine sentiment, but what gives people the right to use public property for their political messages? Are they open to anyone? Can I put up signs criticizing Donald Trump? Can I put up signs criticizing Gov. Baker? If not, why not? I know there’s no advantage to any legislator in pursuing such questions, but why is this allowed to continue?
In most instances that I am aware of signs on public property have been placed there without permission.
Generally if push comes to shove on this, the principle is equal access — the owner (city, town, state or agency) of the public asset must be consistent in the extent to which they permit or deny placement of signs.
Maintenance workers will take often them down if they ever get around to it and have the inclination to do so, but in practice, signs often remain up for some time unless someone is offended enough to complain.
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