Metro-East News

Bob Romanik broadcasts activist's phone number — after he's told to stop harassing him

In this July 29, 2014, file photo, Bob Romanik waits on the first floor of the St. Clair County Building for county court in a red, white and blue Uncle Sam costume, minus the top hat, as a way of reminding the public, “If they can do this to me, they can do this to you.”
In this July 29, 2014, file photo, Bob Romanik waits on the first floor of the St. Clair County Building for county court in a red, white and blue Uncle Sam costume, minus the top hat, as a way of reminding the public, “If they can do this to me, they can do this to you.” dholtmann@bnd.com

A St. Louis County judge has ordered Belleville radio host Bob Romanik to stop "stalking or disturbing the peace" of Caleb Friz, a Missouri activist who organized a Facebook boycott of the radio station's advertisers.

"He called me every name in the book up on the air and then told people to call my job and come by my home. He gave out my home address. I received nasty messages and comments on Facebook after his broadcast. There is no telling what some of his listeners may do to me or my family," Friz wrote in a petition seeking an order of protection. Friz could not be reached for additional comment Thursday.

In the application for the protective order, Friz was required to define his relationship to Romanik. Friz wrote, "I called for advertisers to boycott his station on Facebook."

The order signed May 4 by St. Louis County Judge Mary Bruntrager Schroeder states that Romanik is barred from stalking or disturbing the peace of Friz. He also is to stay away from Friz's home and place of employment, which he listed as customer relations for Bistate Development/Metro. Romanik is also barred from communicating with Friz "in any manner or through any medium."

In the court order, it is unclear what, if anything, Romanik is barred from saying on his show.

But Romanik's attorney, Eric Rhein, stated Thursday that he believes the order is unenforceable.

"He doesn't live in St. Louis County or work in St. Louis County. Yes, his radio show is broadcast there, but I don't believe that there is jurisdiction to enforce that order here," Rhein said.

Although Romanik often says offensive things, Rhein said, he has an absolute right to say them.

While Romanik has received widespread criticism and publicity of his regular use of racial slurs on his radio show, including a feature story in the Washington Post, he defends the practice. He contends that his use of the epithet is selective, and refers not to race but to ideology that applies to a criminal or corrupt element of society.

As for the court order served Thursday at the Belleville station's office, Romanik said: "You''re going to get a court order over in Missouri that I can't say something over here in Illinois? Take that court order and shove it up your (expletive.)"

A few weeks ago, Brad Van Hoose filed a request for an order of protection against Romanik, and it was denied by St. Clair County Associate Judge Walter Brandon, Rhein said.

"Bob has a First Amendment right to say what he says on the radio, no matter how incendiary they may be. If people feel they have been slandered or libeled, they have a legal recourse. It's a civil lawsuit, not an order of protection," Rhein said.

During his Thursday morning show, Romanik gave Friz's telephone number on the air.

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