By Associated Press - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A federal judge has ruled that Westfield’s mayor violated the First Amendment rights of two political rivals and a property owner by ordering campaign signs taken down.

Mayor Daniel Knapik (kuh-NAP’-ik) said he ordered the signs removed before a 2011 election because they were blocking the view of drivers, making them a safety hazard.

The plaintiffs said the signs were removed because the candidates were the mayor’s rivals. They also said a nonpolitical sign remained on the property after the campaign signs for a city council candidate and a municipal light board candidate were removed. The signs were across from the mayor’s home.

The judge noted that there had been no complaints from drivers.

Knapik refused comment but moved for reconsideration of the ruling.

A judgment hearing will be held later.

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