Free-speech right violated?

Published 6:48 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times

Several months ago, I attended a School Board Town Hall (Feb. 8) sponsored by board members John Collick and Michael Vines. The meeting was held at Windsor Elementary School.

Upon my approaching the microphone, Mr. Vines had me escorted from the building by deputies of the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Department, on the premise that I was not from the Carrsville or Windsor districts. I believe this was a violation of my right to free speech.

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I am not seeking retaliation. The Isle of Wight County deputies were courteous and respectful while firmly ushering me from the building. I have tremendous respect for law enforcement. It is not my desire to create trouble for the deputies.

However, I would like to request that a departmentwide review be initiated regarding the deputies’ understanding of a citizen’s right to free speech. Frankly, Feb. 8 was a public meeting in a public school building paid for by taxpayers, attended by Isle of Wight County sheriff’s deputies, also paid for by taxpayers. I am an Isle of Wight citizen and had every right to speak.

Freedom of speech is guaranteed all Americans and is protected in both the U.S. and Virginia constitutions.

Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 12: “That the freedoms of speech and of the press are among the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained except by despotic governments; that any citizen may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; that the General Assembly shall not pass any law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, nor the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for the redress of grievances.”

Our freedoms are being challenged at every turn. If you share my concern, are passionate about America’s future and are a constitutional conservative, join me for a weekly meeting. Breakfast Club is a weekly gathering of conservatives committed to conservative thought, talk and action.

The goal of Breakfast Club is encapsulated in our motto “Freedom, Fellowship, Food, Fun and Facts.” Breakfast Clubs are planted and successful with meetings in Williamsburg, York County, Newport News/Hampton, Middle Peninsula, Lexington and Lynchburg. If you share my passion for the Constitution and are determined to save America, please contact me via email at or via cell at (757) 298-3099.


Laura Fletcher