The following letter was received Sunday afternoon from the office of Del. Pat McDonough:
The theme of the Bel Air Independence Day Parade was supposed to be “American Patriots, Then and Now!” Wow, talk about hypocrisy! Apparently, Michael Blum, Chairman, and the rest of the Parade Committee, don’t have a clue as to what “patriotism” is really all about. Liberty and the Constitutional guarantee of free speech are the foundations of good old U.S.A. patriotism. Chairman Blum and his gang confronted at least three participants in the parade and seized, on one occasion, Delegate Rick Impallaria’s private signs. Blum and company actually yanked these signs from the hands of the children who were carrying them, including a couple of eight year olds.
The reaction from the crowd watching the parade was vitriolic, including shouts of “Sign Nazis or Communists” referring to the sign police. Although those sentiments may be a bit extreme, the crowd was obviously annoyed by Mr. Blum’s antics. The messages that were proclaimed on Delegate Impallaria’s signs were the following: “Support the Constitution,” “Support the Tea Parties,” and “Cut Taxes.” Remember, the theme of the parade was “American Patriots, Then and Now.”
Ironically, on the same day as the parade, more than 500 citizens showed up that morning at a Tea Party in downtown Bel Air. I am sure Chairman Blum was not in attendance at the tea party.
Delegate Impallaria was not the only elected official that Blum and his hit squad harassed during the parade. Prior to the Impallaria incident, Mr. Blum attempted to intimidate me and demanded that I remove my “Speak English” slogan, which was part of my Delegate Pat McDonough signs. I told Mr. Blum that the Constitution was more important to me than his opinion. The signs remained with me throughout the course of the parade, igniting loud cheers and a lively response from the patriotic crowd. I reminded Mr. Blum that my signs had appeared in five previous Bel Air parades without receiving any intimidation from him or anyone else. Moreover, it is important to note that all of the other July 4th parades included signs and slogans from everyone. I had just departed from the Greater Kingsville Parade where not only were the signs welcomed, but the parade officials read them out loud as they passed by the reviewing stand. Apparently, parade officials all around the state support freedom of speech and expression. Mr. Blum has decided to turn Bel Air into a “free speech dead zone.”
Obviously, some type of action must be initiated to prevent this type of ugly incident from occurring again. A number of citizens have come together in order to review the options available, ranging from litigation to protest, and a replacement of Michael Blum with a fellow citizen who understands the true meaning of patriotism, free speech, and America’s birthday on July 4th.
DELEGATE PAT McDONOUGH