Three Charged with 13 Misdemeanors for Posting Stickers on City Poles

Moscow, Idaho–“While some may not like what was posted, or how it was posted, the constitutional right to free speech prohibits the government from using ambiguous and unused ordinances to punish opposition,” lawyer Sam Creason said in a press release Monday.

City Attorney, Liz Warner, has charged a father and his two sons with 13 misdemeanors each according to the press release.

Rory Wilson, 18, a student at New Saint Andrews College, and his younger brother, 14, were stopped by Moscow Police for posting stickers on poles around Moscow which read, “Soviet Moscow – Enforced because we care.” They posted them in protest of the arrests that took place at a peaceful psalm sing outside City Hall in Sept. 2020.

One of the stickers posted by the Wilson boys.

Rory Wilson was handcuffed and interrogated on the ground and his brother, who is a minor, was separated from him. When their father, N.D. Wilson arrived on scene, he was not allowed to approach his 14-year-old son who was being interrogated on the hood of a police vehicle.

The press release stated that no looting, vandalism, or destruction of property occurred.

The boys were sent home with their father that night with no citations. A few days later, the three Wilsons were delivered summons stating that each had been charged with 13 counts of posting signs or fliers on poles without permission. Each misdemeanor count carries a maximum of six months in prison.    

The charges are based on city ordinance Title 10 Section 1-22 which prohibits the posting of fliers on fences, buildings, or poles. 

Moscow Police officer Jay Waters was at the initial scene when the boys were stopped. The press release says that Waters explained posting stickers and fliers on poles is a crime most often committed by people advertising for yard sales or looking for their lost cat.

Uproar over the incident arose because there have been no previous prosecutions of signs being posted on city poles without permission. Social media users flooded Facebook in support of the Wilsons pointing out that there have been many signs posted by different individuals and businesses on poles all over Moscow without repercussions.

“This is the first prosecution ever in the history of the ordinance,” Douglas Wilson, a local author and pastor, said in a blog post Monday. “None of the body cam footage, from any of the police officers, is available.”

stickers on a pole in Moscow
One of the many public utility poles in Moscow covered with stickers. There has never been an instance of legal action taken against stickers on poles in the history of the ordinance.

The Wilson family has contracted with lawyer Sam Creason for their case.

“It has been extremely disappointing to watch local government charge these two boys with a criminal offense,” Creason said. “From what I have seen, the young men have impeccable reputations for leadership and respect amongst people who personally know them.”

The City of Moscow has been required to turn over all records related to the no posting ordinance in response to a subpoena from Creason. 

The press release reports that officer Waters denied that the charges were politically motivated, and explained that they were simply trying to enforce the law equally. 

A utility pole downtown Moscow on March 2nd, with all stickers removed or partially removed by a business owner except one anti-Christ Church sticker with the words “All Kirker are Bastards.” “Kirkers” refers to members of Christ Church, where N.D. Wilson and his sons worship.

There have been no other prosecutions based on this city ordinance.

N.D. Wilson explained that he created the Soviet Moscow stickers in response to the psalm sing arrests in September. 

“We talked about using our resources to sue the city, but we settled on something more low-key,” Wilson said. “Our company, Gorilla Poet Productions, produced protest stickers instead.”

He went on to explain that he had no idea how upset the city attorneys, Liz Warner and Mia Bautista, would be over the stickers or that his children would be the brunt of the attorney’s disapproval. 

N.D. Wilson is still waiting for progress on the cases.

Read the full Press Release here.

Note: A Soviet Moscow Sticker Defense Fund is now in place for those wishing to help the Wilson’s in their legal battle. Soviet Moscow stickers may be purchased from Canon Press – 100% of proceeds go towards the Wilson Legal Defense Fund.


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