Paul Tay's 'anti war' protest raising eyebrows

Thursday, March 13th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

He made a name for himself when he ran for mayor of Tulsa last time around. Campaigning from astride a bicycle and a cart he pulled along behind.

Well, Paul Tay is on the streets campaigning again. It's a campaign against the war using an inflatable male genitalia, and naturally, it has folks riled up. News on 6 reporter Rick Wells says Tay’s efforts are difficult to ignore.

John Filbeck, Six in the Morning Traffic: “The individual who likes to ride his bike in traffic is out again this morning." Hey, isn't that a, why yes I think it is. Christine Adams: “He shouldn't be allowed to do this, this isn't right." Christine Adams and Vera Webb work near 71st and Riverside. They've both seen enough of Paul Tay, his bicycle, and his ride-a-long companion. Vera Webb: “I think it's very un-appropriate." So do most people who see it and the police too.

In fact they've tried to do something about it. Tulsa Police Captain Gary Rudick: "Several officers issued a citation for enraging public decency, they confiscated his display as evidence." The charges were dropped and the evidence was returned to him, his free speech rights protect him. The US Supreme Court has ruled items like Paul Tay's inflatable don't meet the legal definition of obscene.

Too cartoonish, it's a novelty item. But that hasn't stopped people from calling. Rudick: "I would say we've received at dispatch, the Mayor's Action Center, and at the division we've received several hundred calls." Filbeck: "We have problems on Riverside Drive, there's an individual riding his bike."

Rudick: "Officers have come up to him on a couple of occasions and said will you please stop, and he's refused." Filbeck: "He has a balloon and a sign, people are rubber necking, and dragging their feet." So police say he's legal. So is his inflatable, bicycle ordinances allow him to ride on the streets, as long as he keeps moving and stays on the right, their best advice just try to ignore him.

Police say, as angry and frustrated as this may make you, there is little they can do. Unless Tay is on private property and refuses to leave or violates traffic laws, his riding on city streets carrying a sign and his inflated display is legal.