McAllen's noise ordinance ruled unconstitutional after lawsuit by protester


The City of McAllen must alter wording in a city noise ordinance after a U.S. District Judge rule it unconstitutional.

However, the city eliminated the prohibition of screaming, shouting, hollering or yelling , and loudspeakers before the order was signed by U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez.

The order comes after more than three dozen protestors gathered outside D. Wilson Construction Company in McAllen with megaphones in hand last year. They claimed the company failed to pay its construction workers.

The chants became silence when the McAllen Police Department shut down the protest citing noise violations.

"It was a very energetic protest. There was a lot of people out supporting the workers and their claims for justice for the pay that they had been denied by their bosses," said John Michael Torres, a spokesman for La Unin del Pueblo Entero.

One man in attendance was show a city ordinance stating it was prohibited to scream, shout, holler, yell or use a loudspeaker regardless of the time of day.

"All these cops showed up and all of the sudden. First they told us we couldn't use megaphones, so we stopped. Then they told us we couldn't scream and threatened with citation, so we stopped," said Hector Guzman-Lopez, a member of La Union del Pueblo Entero.

Guzman decided to file a lawsuit against the city last year.

On Friday, Oct. 2, a U.S. District Judge ruled the ordinance unconstitutional because it was too broad.

"Now the ordinance is no longer valid, and that was our principal goal in this case," said Efrn Olivares, a staff attorney for the South Texas Civil Rights Project.

The city changed the wording of the ordinance one week before the ruling.

"The city of McAllen will protect the first amendment rights of citizens who wish to protect themselves in public places, while simultaneously protecting the rights of other citizens to be free from inappropriate and unlawful disturbances," according to a statement provided by city employees.

Members of Fuerza del Valle said the ruling is not only a mile stone for their organization, but also for other residents of McAllen.

"We are going to continue to use our voices, and people can continue to use their voices, and organizing around things that are unjust," said Martha Sanchez, a coordinator with La Union del Pueblo Entero.

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