Don Abernathy, who was first appointed to the Southaven Planning Commission in 2013 and resigned in 2015, said he was told by Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite if he pursued his objections to the city’s sign ordinances, which primarily involve political campaign signs, it would be “a conflict of interest” and he would need to step down.
Abernathy said that’s exactly what he did and turned in his letter of resignation to Southaven city officials. He was appointed by Southaven Alderman Joel Gallagher.
Abernathy, a contractor whose company builds jails across the country, is a self-described conservative and he acknowledges that his decision to file a complaint with the ACLU might seem like an odd choice from someone who is of a conservative background.
Nonetheless, Abernathy said his research shows that the ACLU has taken up matters of free speech, which he says is at the heart of the matter, in several states, including Texas and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Abernathy has re-filed his complaint with the ACLU several times since 2015, most recently in a Dec. 14 filing.
“The ACLU are the ones championing the fight to make these municipalities conform if portions of their ordinances are determined to be unconstitutional,” Abernathy said.
In his complaint, “Donald Abernathy Against the City of Southaven,” Abernathy objects to, among other things, the 45-day time limit before the election cycle and the removal of signs five days after the election cycle.
“Imposing time limits only on political signs in this manner impermissibly limits free speech rights of citizens in an important forum.”