Rights of Port Jeff ice cream shop owner violated, village orders banner to be removed

A judge ruled that village officials violated the freedom of speech of a Port Jefferson ice cream shop owner in 2020.

Property owner George Wallis was accused of violating the village signage ordinance with a banner on a balcony near the Rogers frigate.

The banner supported the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, and another read, “Impeach Cuomo.”

Wallis didn’t want to speak on camera, but Roger Rutherford, general manager of the Rogers Frigate, said banners like this had been around for decades, but the problem was that they were political. He said it was only when he became

“When he started giving political signs in 2016, it was mostly after he endorsed then-President Trump,” says Rutherford.

Justice Tara Higgins clarified in her ruling that Wallis’ constitutional right to free speech took precedence over the village’s signature ordinance.

The owner of the ice cream shop told News 12 that many other shops nearby have similar signs, but they were the only ones facing problems due to the messages on the signs.

News 12 reached out to the Mayor of Port Jefferson, but as of 4 p.m., had not heard back.

The village may appeal the judge’s decision, but management says the owners are prepared to continue fighting if necessary.

“Wallis has never yielded to village pressure,” says Rutherford. “He kept giving signs until he felt it was time to withdraw it.”

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