Outspoken Halswell resident Greig Russell has always believed in the power of free speech.
After being removed from a community Facebook page in Halswell of nearly 11,000 members for posting a mobile number online, the 40-year-old steel fabricator has taken a stand on people having the right to speak their mind.
Mr Russell set up his own community Facebook page called Halswell Community Page Uncensored after falling out with the administrators of the Halswell Community Group page.
Now bumper stickers with #bringbackgreigrussell and #LETSMAKEHALSWELLGREATAGAIN have begun to appear around the suburb.
Mr Russell said the idea is to spread the message of free speech.
The bumper stickers have appeared on the back of cars, on children’s school bags and even on community food shelf the Sharing Shack in Halswell.
Halswell Community Project chairwoman and one of the administrators Chrys Horn said Mr Russell won’t be added back into the group until he can prove he can behave on the page.
“If he has merchandise he obviously doesn’t know when to stop . . . our Facebook team still feel fairly harassed, we have now quietly got rid of him,” she said.
Mr Russell said everyone, part of a community, has got a different opinion and it wasn’t right for a group of administrators to decide what people should see or read.
“In a roundabout way, you could say it is an abuse of power because they are dictating to others what they can and cannot read about the community.”
But Dr Horn said the group could not be seen as dictators.
“We have a responsibility to manage this page and people are voting with their feet in terms of participating on it . . . nearly 10,000 people are active on it.”
Mr Russell was removed from the Halswell Community Group when he posted a mobile phone number online.
He had helped a group of men stranded in Greta Valley with a flat tyre by allowing them to borrow his spare. One of the men gave him his phone number and promised to return the spare tyre the next day. But nothing eventuated and Mr Russell’s calls were blocked.
To pressure the man, he asked members of the Halswell Community Group to phone the number and ask for the wheel’s return. It was returned after several weeks.
Dr Horn said: “It is not legal to post somebody’s phone number and to get complete strangers to ring them up on your behalf when there is no evidence that what you said is what went. That is harassment.”
Mr Russell said it was not harassment, it was asking for a favour from the community.
Since starting his own Facebook page, Mr Russell, who has lived in Halswell, has been asked by several residents to run for mayor for the elections in October.
“I am seriously thinking about putting my name in the ballot
. . . Tim Shadbolt does it, he is all right. I like him,” he said.
Dr Horn said while she wouldn’t vote for Mr Russell, he would be very good at campaigning and if the public wanted a mayor who knew how to make a “loud noise,” he could do it.