An Oxford resident, Tate Prows, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Oxford and its officials for an ordinance passed and enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prows alleged that Ordinance 3579 went against the right to assembly as protected under the First Amendment. At the time, Oxford was fining residents $500 for gatherings of more than 10 people.
“During these past three years, our country has seen a disquieting erosion of the most basic and foundational rights, upon which our Republic stands,” Prows wrote in an email to The Miami Student. “These freedoms are under attack, and those that care not for these freedoms, have been unmasked.”
Prows also pointed out that 23 citations were given out under this ordinance, and all of these citations were given to Miami University students. For this reason, Prows also alleges that the ordinance violated their 14th Amendment rights, which give fair and equal protections to all U.S. citizens.
“It was just shocking to me that every single one was a Miami University student, and frankly, Miami University is the lifeblood of Oxford, Ohio,” Prows said. “Also, we’re all affected from an ordinance like that.”
Prows also stated in the suit that he was unable to see family during the holidays under the ordinance, due to fear from being issued a $500 fine for gathering. He writes that the ordinance was “creating a Gestapo-like feel, where armed Oxford police officers could show up at your door and fine you.”
Prows is asking the court to declare 3579 unconstitutional and prevent the City of Oxford from passing similar ordinances in the future. Prows also asks for $1,730,000 from the city and $450,000 from each of the nine defendants, seven of which are the city council members from when the ordinance was passed and the others are city officials, in the suit. Prows hopes the defendants still working will each resign from their positions.
Prows also said he would like to see a change in the reach of local government.
“What I hope ultimately for is a change in the ideology of my local government,” Prows said. “I want to see government’s municipalities stop overreaching because that’s what they’re doing.”
Oxford officials declined to comment.
A trial for the suit has not been set yet. The Miami Student will continue to cover the lawsuit as it develops.