“Shortly after Mr. Petrelis arrived to put his signs behind Mr. Arntz, a sheriff`s deputy interrupted the press conference to express their opposition to the sign`s message and say, “Please. Gimme a break. Three sheriff`s deputies then arrested Mr. Petrelis, pushed him and dragged him out of the press conference, adding that he was physically injured,” Wagda said. “Shortly after the start of the press conference, Mr. Petrelis stood calmly and silently behind the city`s chief electoral officer, John Arntz, holding two small paper signs with the message “SUZY IS CORRUPT” (referring to Ms. Loftus) in hand,” according to a press release from Donald Wagda, petrelis` lawyer, on February 10. “Mr. Petrelis` signs were in “perfect compliance” with the town hall`s real estate policy, which regulated the wearing of signs at City Hall, according to the allegations set out in the complaint.
In a copy of Wagda`s town hall policy, it states that “signs affixed to sticks or pylons are not permitted at the town hall. Banners are only permitted in the event of specially licensed events or services, subject to a written agreement with the City. Small paper or cardboard panels, which are no larger than 11 x 17 ” , can be worn by hand.” The complaint filed on February 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California accuses Michael Petrelis, 61, of being unlawfully arrested for a peaceful and non-verbal demonstration at San Francisco City Hall on November 6. “The First Amendment gives the press and the public a positive right to access dignified messages,” Wagda said in the press release. “As soon as a public servant decides to do a general press conference, the exclusion of a citizen journalist, based on that journalist`s political point of view, runs counter to the First Amendment.” While the appointment was widely seen as an example of political patronage and an attempt to tip the balance in favour of Loftus, which the mayor had previously supported in the November elections, no evidence was revealed that it was the result of a corrupt plan. Petrelis declined to comment on the dollar figures. The head of the elections department announced new election results at around 4:30 p.m. at a press conference.m.
The complaint alleges that Petrelis` right to press freedom was violated because the arrest hindered his ability to speed up.