WATCH: Video captures Lowndes sheriff trying to take sign from protesters
June 4, 2020
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) –Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk says his office will arrest protesters holding signs with profanity, after getting in a brief scuffle Wednesday when he took a sign away from a group in downtown Valdosta.
The protesters were demonstrating on a street corner by the historic courthouse.
The sheriff's confrontation with them was caught on video by several bystanders.
In the video, Paulk is seen at the edge of the crowd, next to the curb of the street, talking to a protester and holding a sign that refers to President Trump with an expletive.
The sheriff says the protester agreed to surrender the sign, but then another protester got involved.
The video shows the other protester grabbing the sign and moving away. The sheriff tries to grab it back when a minor scuffle unfolds.
Sheriff Paulk tells WCTV the woman didn't realize he was with the sheriff's office. When she realized it was the sheriff, she shook hands with Paulk and agreed to surrender the sign.
The sheriff says he supports the group's right to protest peacefully, but he does not want them showing signs with profanity.
He went to get the sign after getting several calls complaining about the language, the sheriff says. Paulk says people displaying signs with profanity will be arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
The sheriff cites a Georgia law that makes it a misdemeanor to use obscene, vulgar or profane language in the presence of a person under age 14, which threatens an immediate breach of the peace.
Paulk served as Lowndes County Sheriff from 1993 to 2009. He was elected to the job again in 2016. He is running for re-election this year, and is unopposed.