Conflict of free speech and private property arises at Del Rayo


Charles Covello, an owner of Del Rayo Village, is seeking input from the community about how to remove unwanted political activists from his shopping center located at the corner of San Dieguito Road and Rancho Diegueno.

A group of people, who said they were with the LaRouche Political Action Committee (

), displayed a poster of President Barack Obama wearing a Hitler mustache. They passed out information in front of the post office at the property all day on Nov. 8 and asked for donations. Covello said he has received several calls from offended community members.

Although he owns the property, he said, he can’t peacefully remove the group.

“Apparently shopping centers fall under this weird situation where it’s not so private, and people can do what they want as long as they are not breaking the law or conducting business without a license,” he said.

Covello asked the sheriff’s department to remove the group, but “rights of free speech trump private property rights.

“When you have a property you’ve worked on for 17 years and it’s not yours to manage how you see fit,” he said, “it’s frustrating.”

The best thing people offended by the display can do, Cavallo said, is to ignore the group and not give them money.

“If people ignore them, there’s no benefit for them to stay there,” he said.