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Ozark resident intends to sue mayor for “violating First Amendment rights”

The feud between Ozark Mayor Mark Blankenship and resident Bryant Fontenot appears to be heading to court.

Ozark Mayor Mark Blankenship
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The feud between Ozark Mayor Mark Blankenship and resident Bryant Fontenot appears to be heading to court, as Fontenot filed an affidavit announcing his intent to sue Blankenship for “violating my First Amendment rights.”

“The City of Ozark and the mayor of Ozark have tried to violate my client’s First Amendment rights,” Fontenot’s attorney, Andrew Scarborough told WDHN. “They have tried to impede his ability to participate in civic action.”

Fontenot is a leader of a group that successfully pushed for the censure of Blankenship for his actions threatening litigation against another citizen, Adam Kamerer, for reading aloud public records at a library board meeting.

The effort to censure Blankenship may not have been successful, had Blankenship not published text messages between Fontenot and a local business owner on city letterhead and distributed the texts ahead of a council meeting. Council president Brenda Simechak, the deciding vote on the censure, said that action particularly went too far.

Then after Fontenot confronted Blankenship in the parking lot after a later city hall meeting, Blankenship pressed charges of harassment against Fontenot. Those charges have been dismissed, with a judge finding no evidence to proceed with the case.

“Yes, we had a moment of vindication when the judge granted our judgment of acquittal, but that wasn’t enough,” Scarborough said. “We are here to prevent this from happening to someone else and are here to make Mr. Fontenot whole as to what took place at the direction of the mayor of Ozark.”

The affidavit also announces intent to sue on the grounds of false imprisonment, false arrest, negligence, malicious prosecution and others.

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Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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