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Former city councilwoman sues Jefferson City over paver removal

A now-removed marker with a message similar to the pavers removed from Jefferson City's Riverwalk.
KMIZ
A now-removed marker with a message similar to the pavers removed from Jefferson City's Riverwalk.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ.)

Former Councilwoman Edith Vogel filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin and the city over the removal of pavers with a Confederate message from a riverwalk.

Vogel paid in 2021 to have two pavers engraved at the new park near the Bicentennial Bridge on Adrian's Island.

The following was written on Vogel's paver: "Union Camp Lillies notes: deciding against attack the confederate army under Gen. Sterling Price turned from Jefferson City Oct.7, 1864." That was the same message that was on a plaque removed from city property in fall 2020.

The city had the pavers removed because of the reuse of the message.

Vogel is seeking a restraining order and preliminary injunction to compel the city to replace and maintain her paver with her original message.

Last year, Mayor Carrie Tergin wanted to support the construction of the Bicentennial Bridge, so she started a paver fundraising campaign. This allowed the city to sell engraved stone pavers to put in a new park built around the bridge on Adrian's island.

According to court documents, Tergin argues that Vogel's pavers did not abide by the content guidelines for the paver campaign.

There was also no review process for the paver.

It wasn't until after the paver was placed that Tergin became aware of the message on Vogel's paver, according to the lawsuit. Tergin was opposed to the message.

"What Mrs. Vogel has alleged is that the city singled out her chosen message for the suppression because the mayor didn't like it", said Vogel's attorney, Cole Bradbury.

This was not the first time an issue like this occurred, however. The mayor previously led a City Council action to remove a Civil War monument from the city property on Moreau which touched on the same historical event.

Court documents state that Vogel feels the removal of her pavers violates her right to free speech by "acting to suppress expression merely because the public officials oppose a speaker's view".

The First Amendment also outlaws government suppression of speech, she argues.

Vogels attorney says the next step in his client's lawsuit should take place within a month

"I would suspect that the court would set that for hearing sometime in the next 30 days or so and I expect that we'll have a hearing on that motion and the court will make a preliminary ruling shortly after that", said Bradbury. 

Tergin declined to comment about the lawsuit until she consults with the city's lawyer.

Check back for more on this story and watch ABC 17 News at 5 and 6.

Kennedy Miller

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