Activists believe free speech rights were violated at wage theft protest

Hector Guzman said he's participated in several peaceful protests all across the valley, but when protesting for worker's rights in McAllen, he felt his rights to free speech were trampled on twice.

Action 4 News was there when police showed up at the May Day protest in McAllen where Fuerza Del Valle gathered to protest wage theft and worker TMs rights.

"We don TMt have tons of money to hire fancy lawyers. All we have is our right to assemble, our right to free speech, this is the tool that workers have to make their grievances known to society," said Fuerza Del Valle Coordinator Hector Guzman Lopez.

Guzman said police and city code enforcers told demonstrators they were in violation of a city noise ordinance and needed to stop or be cited.

We've been having direct actions, marches, protests all across the valley from Brownsville to Mission, Pharr, San Juan. Almost every action and we never encountered this violation of free speech," said Guzman.

Guzman said it happened again two weeks later, when also protesting worker TMs rights.

We asked the City of McAllen about their noise ordinance back in May just after the protest.

They said that amplified noise and use of bull horns were prohibited because it creates a disturbance, but Guzman said the city does not enforce the ordinance evenly across the board.

We have not heard of any other incident where this has been enforced either not at football games, not at other protest, pro-immigrant protests, anti-immigrant protests, happened in McAllen," said Guzman.

His lawsuit points to other incidents where shouting and bullhorns were also used, such as the protest held last month at the bus station by a group named the Border Convoy.

He feels that the city is enforcing the ordinance based on the issue that is being protested.

Makes us feel not so good. Makes us feel like we TMre not an important sector, also makes us question what side the city is on when it comes to work place injustices," said Guzman

Guzman's attorney told us the ordinance is not being fairly enforced and it TMs unconstitutional because of how vaguely it TMs written. It does not state the specific volume restrictions as other neighboring cities do.

The City of McAllen said that Guzman and his attorney have not reached out to their legal department and were instead notified of the lawsuit through the media.

They promise to respond to Guzman's lawsuit in the near future.

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