A Pennsylvania man who has thrilled Christmas light seekers with a huge display on his home since 1987 is fighting back against those trying to shut him down. William Ansell named 18 defendants in a lawsuit including Ross Township, several police officers and the Allegheny County jail. Ansell said Ross police routinely harassed and intimidated him since 2006 for violating local ordinances.
According to the 38-page complaint, Ross police have engaged in a pattern of “harassment, intimidation and punishment” against Mr. Ansell.
He alleges that since March 2006, township police have unfairly targeted him for violating local ordinances — mostly for parking inappropriately on the cul-de-sac where he rents a house from his brother. When he has tried to complain to the police chief or commissioners about the treatment, he said, he has been ignored or cut off.
As an example, he said, when he tried to speak during public comment at the May 11, 2009, commissioners meeting, the commissioners had a police officer physically remove him.
In the month and a half that followed, Mr. Ansell said, he was issued seven parking violations.
“Notably, nearly three dozen vehicles were parked in the same manner in the general vicinity, but those residents did not receive citations,” the lawsuit said.
Other allegations in the complaint include that public works employees purposely blew leaves from the street into Mr. Ansell’s yard, and that he was targeted for harassment because of two stories about his holiday lights by local media in December 2008.
Ansell’s light display is renown in the area for its massive size that draws crowds and traffic to the area, causing neighbors to complain regularly to the city.