Many Fort Myers Beach residents and visitors know who Adam LaCroix is. Commonly referred to as the street preacher, LaCroix was often seen in Times Square loudly pushing his religious beliefs, which were not always kid-friendly.
LaCroix does not need a permit for what he does. His preaching on public property is protected by the First Amendment. He has every right to say what he wants to say, to whoever he wants to say it to, wherever he wants to say it.
When he picks up a bullhorn to amplify his message, the only recourse the town has, when someone complains, is to measure his sound level to see if he’s violating the noise ordinance.
Another weapon the town has in its arsenal is a sign ordinance. And that’s what LaCroix’s lawsuit was all about, which was filed in January of 2022.
After being warned about carrying a sign in October, LaCroix was issued a ticket for violating the town’s sign ordinance in December. For that, he sued the town. LaCroix’s suit said the town violated his constitutional rights to express his religious beliefs by carrying a portable sign. And his lawsuit says when he was issued the code violation by the town he was “embarrassed.”
After LaCroix called town hall about the sign ticket, he convinced the town to drop the sign violation charge. However, he was unsure if he’d be ticketed again if he carried a portable sign, which he believes he has every right to do. He said that worry “has caused, and will continue to cause him to suffer extreme hardship, both actual and impending, irreparable injury and damage.”
So LaCroix sued the town over the sign.
In June of 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Sheri Chappell sided with the town. She ruled that the town’s sign ban was OK because it did not discriminate against any content. It was content neutral.
Upon appeal, LaCroix prevailed. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals stated “content neutrality does not save the town’s ordinance from First Amendment scrutiny. These signs are a venerable means of communication that is both unique and important.”
The court went even further in criticizing the town ordinance: “A Fort Myers Beach resident may not hold a sign by hand, he may not put a sign in the ground if it is taller than 18 inches, he may not display his sign on his car, and he cannot place any signs in a public place. Short of a bullhorn and running his voice hoarse, a Fort Myers Beach resident has precious few, if any, alternative channels of communication.”
The Court went on to say that the government restriction must also allow a speaker the ability to effectively communicate his message to the intended audience in face of the ordinance’s restrictions. “In sharp contrast, a resident of Fort Myers Beach who sought to preach to a group of passing motorists or to communicate that message without physically approaching the listener would be unable to do so anywhere in the town.”
The Court said the town’s total ban on portable signs was likely a violation of free speech. “These signs hold a unique place in America’s proud tradition of free speech. Because the ordinance completely bans this core canvas of expression, it likely violates the First Amendment, both facially and as applied. It does not leave open meaningful, effective alternative channels for communication. The small categories of signs the ordinance permits are no substitute.”
After that ruling, town staff and town attorney John Herin went to work to rewrite the town’s sign ordinance to align it more with the Court of Appeals ruling. The changes were made and a new sign ordinance was approved by the Town Council. That change apparently led to a settlement with LaCroix which was announced earlier this week. LaCroix dropped his lawsuit against the town and the town’s insurance carrier agreed to pay LaCroix’s attorney’s fees which were a little under $50,000.
Maybe a group could start following him with a bullhorn singing.
Just sayin…maybe we shouldn’t drop money in his bucket. Jesus would not appreciate a dude screaming at us over our sins. HE died for us to absolve our sins. Can we put a smaller sign out nearby that says, God bless this crazy man…please don’t give him money, he’s already sued the city for money! Need a legal way to do this!
He ain’t no Jesus….but he is annoying. Public nuisance, pretending to to “Holier than thou”. He really should look in the mirror and ask why he is preaching to the crowd at the beach? Seems really odd. But then again, consider the source.
I believe 100% of that money must go to attorneys fees. Otherwise, it is a for profit effort. If there is a kickback from the attorney to him, that is questionable.
Follow the money…
He cost businesses money. He is not about Jesus he is about making money law suit after law suit. Very sad. Ive seen him harass kids so many times. He would love for someone to assault him so he can sue them too!!!!
There is something called peaceful protest. And then there is disturbing the peace. Freedom of speech, sure. Screaming into a microphone to the point where bystanders will go out of their way to avoid him. Why don’t people sign a petition to have him stop screaming in a microphone?
Anyone familiar with precedent and the constitutional (without a law degree) could have told you that the towns ordinance was illegal. Duh.
Only reason he does what he does is to get lawsuits and receive money so he doesn’t have to work for a living…..only reason
What we have here is a failure of the town attorney. There must be a more effective legal remedy than loosing money to him in court.
He wasn’t town attorney when the sign ordinance was amended years ago to conform with First Amendment, protocols which have not been easy to satisfy.
Last time I checked, sitting around on the beach, minding my own business and not wanting to be harassed was not considered whining.
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. I pray the Holy Spirit teaches him the gentleness and respect part.
1 Peter 3:15
Thank GOD – for the First and second amendment.
Many FMB residents act like they live in a gated community or Condo with their own set of Rules to suit their tastes –
FMB is the Public’s Beach – get over it or move somewhere they care about your whining – again many gorgeous gated communities where sterile controlled life is available –
Have you ever been eating lunch with your kids and or parents and have this guy literally 2 feet away? If you have not please wait until you do to form your opinion. I can guarantee you would not feel the same as you do now. Also, take the time and look up this man. This is what he does. He waits for people to do some thing or say some thing that he can make a lawsuit out of. He is not preaching for God he’s just a Street peddler trying to make money off of other people.
When you are on vacation and want a relaxing atmosphere that you are paying a lot for you do not want a fog horn screaming about Jesus the whole time. And he stays right where people are trying to eat and actually is so loud it is awful. To me all it does is turn people AWAY from any thing religious. You would not want someone with a foghorn at a restaurant where you were dining screaming at you. Let him go on the bridge and scream at cars going by do they can get away from him
What about hate crime or bullying laws, couldn’t this fall under those laws. I have felt like i was being bullied by him when I am on the beach. I don’t think the messages he spews or his methods are what the Good Lord intended.
I don’t have to deal with him that much as I live on the south end of FMB. But since attending many fundraisers at Times Square I’ve witnessed what people are talking about. During Christmas there was a band having us all join in to sing Christmas carols. He was Blah blah blah-ing through his bullhorn drowning out many including the small voices of the children. He also does the bullhorn thing as people are on the beach watching one of God’s greatest shows on earth…the sunset. I think he likes the attention and try’s to steal God’s thunder.
He ruined our time at art walk in downtown ft myers! The music couldnt even drown them out and he caused people to leave. He ruined it for the vendors selling their beautiful work. Its terrible. I wish he just carried a sign! Its the amplified bullhorn that needs to go!
He knows every loophole. This is not about religion at all but about power and money.
So very true!
He’s disgusting. what happened to our rights? he’s so loud that he interrupts our enjoyment, our right to live and enjoy our lives. freedom of speech should NOT be at the detriment of others. there must be some other way.
He spews hate speech.
This guy is not a preacher, He’s a bully. There’s a big difference.
I am a deep follower of Christ and hope that Mr. LaCroix took Christ’s approach of love and grace and mercy. These are the most precious attributes of Christ to preach truth. As Proverbs 15:1 says … “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” God is love (1John 4:8) and will leave the 99 to find the 1 that is lost (Matthew 18:12). Blessings to all.