MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A college student from Long Island alleged Tuesday that he was wrongfully arrested for protesting on a Long Island Expressway overpass.
Daniel Martins, 21, of Mineola, was arrested on June 6 while standing with protest signs and flags on a bridge over the busy highway.
He has pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct and criminal nuisance charges.
Martins is a 21-year-old senior at Hofstra University. He said he was expressing his free speech rights in urging President Barack Obama’s impeachment, and told 1010 WINS prosecutors had no right to be going after him.
“They would rather bargain and plea down violent drug and DWI offenders, but I’m being prosecuted for peacefully protesting – which is completely legal,” Martins said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me. If that’s justice, then our founding fathers would be turning in their graves.”
Martins said he followed all the rules, and there was never any accident or harm done to anyone.
“I took them down individually after I did the protest, and I brought them back, and I never left any trash or any garbage,” he said. “I always cleaned up after myself, and I was always respectful about the time I was supposed to be there, which was two hours I did every Friday.”
But the state Department of Transportation said only municipalities are permitted to grant permission to post signs on state highways.
In recent years, signs welcoming home war veterans have become a common sight on some highway overpasses.
Prosecutors said that while political protest is a right, people are not entitled to create a public safety hazard.
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