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Roland Park Civic League apologizes for yard sign flap

The Roland Park Civic League has apologized for asking residents to remove signs welcoming immigrants and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I would like to personally apologize if the recent Roland Park News conveyed to you the impression that we wish to interfere with your First Amendment right to free expression,” Civic League President Hap Cooper wrote in an open letter posted to the group’s website Dec. 5. “We support and encourage respectful dialogue without exception.”

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The civic league angered some residents when it cautioned the neighborhood against the signs, saying they were prohibited under Baltimore’s zoning code. The group said it did not oppose the signs’ messages, but decided to circulate the zoning law after complaints that the placards were cluttering the neighborhood.

“We failed to anticipate that doing so could be interpreted as opposition to the content of many of these signs,” Cooper wrote. “For that, again, we are truly sorry.”

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Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis told The Baltimore Sun the civic league misinterpreted the rule.

In North Baltimore’s Roland Park neighborhood, some residents have posted signs welcoming immigrants and supporting Black Lives Matter. While some see the signs as expressing the community’s values, the Roland Park Civic League says it received complaints that they’re unsightly.

Baltimore zoning law says that temporary signs, such as those promoting an event or campaign posted on a private property must be removed promptly. But signs advocating for a political issue are not tied to a specific event.

Cooper said he had since spoken with Davis and confirmed that the signs were permitted.

“So we would like to publicly encourage our community to continue to express themselves in ways that promote awareness and discussion,” Hap wrote, “especially relating to tolerance and inclusivity.”

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