Ardmore man fighting injury to property charge after protesting mask mandate
ARDMORE, Oklahoma (KXII) - An Ardmore man was arrested last week while trying to protest the city mask mandate.
“You don’t have a voice in Ardmore,” Fleming said.
Leslie Fleming said his first amendment rights were violated.
“I decided to protest because I think that we should all have a say in our lives,” Fleming said. “I think we should have a vote.”
Fleming said he would have voted for the mask mandate if given a chance. But he doesn’t agree with how it was worded. Fleming said if the citizens of Ardmore had a say in the mandate, it would have been worded better.
“It says masks or other face coverings are required in indoor public places within the city of Ardmore. Start to finish, that’s the mandate,” Fleming said. “There’s no exception for people like me with Multiple Sclerosis.”
Mayor Doug Pfau had not responded to requests for comment by time of press.
Since he couldn’t vote, Fleming protested using signs he found in a city vehicle- the kind typically used by Code Enforcement when lawns need to be mowed, or cars need to be moved. Fleming painted the signs and put them in front of city hall the morning of the city commissioner’s vote.
“I didn’t know it was a crime to reuse those, even though we’ve always done that in Ardmore,” Fleming said.
He was originally arrested for possession of stolen property, but the charge has since been changed to malicious injury of property.
“So it’s not about where I got the signs, it’s about the fact that I maliciously injured the garbage signs,” Fleming said.
District Attorney Craig Ladd said the charges were changed because in Oklahoma, the state would have to prove that Fleming took the city’s signs intending to not bring them back, which is hard to prove because the signs were found on city property.
Fleming pleaded not guilty on Friday. His next court appearance is January 5th.
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