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MSU Students Fight The Law With Huge Katy Perry Sign — And Win

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(Photo: Adam Dimitry) This sign is drawing controversy in East Lansing.

(Photo: Adam Dimitry) This sign is drawing controversy in East Lansing.

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By Christy Strawser
@cstrawser1

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Her hit list doesn’t include “I Fought The Law,” but a group of Katy Perry fans at Michigan State University certainly did — and they won.

Eight friends who live in an off-campus rental on Burcham Drive showed their love for the voluptuous “California Gurls” singer with a 90-square-foot depiction of the pop starlet from a billboard that was secured by a relative of one of the roommates. They put it in a frame and propped outside the house.

It rested peacefully all last summer without a problem, but when they brought it out again this spring, a neighbor complained. The city’s Housing Division issued a citation saying they had to take it down, citing it as too big, a fire hazard, and saying it blocked windows at the home.

“It’s a college town, that’s what we were thinking, stuff like this happens all the time, we’re surrounded by fraternity houses,” explained Adam Dimitry, a senior from Jackson, studying business supply chain management. “With pledges, I’ve seen guys running down my street naked before, trash in yards after weekend parties. I always assumed those are things that would be offensive to neighbors, not this sign.”

Angry at the city’s rebuke, the students put a petition on change.org and quickly garnered 200 supporters who rallied around the Katy Perry cause. Their landlord, a fellow Katy Perry fan, was supportive and urged them to fight City Hall.

Dimitry and his pals started asking questions, calling the city and talking to various officials. “It’s one of those things, my landlord said, ‘You’re walking into a gunfight with a sword,’ … But we’re a bunch of stubborn college kids, so why not.”

Dimitry ended up making an appointment with Tim Schmitt, a community development analyst and self-described “sign guy” for the city, who said the sign clearly violates the residential sign ordinance, which says all signs have to be 1 square foot or smaller. This one is 90 square feet.

But he relented — sort of.

They were nice kids and Schmitt, a Perry fan himself, ultimately brokered a deal: The house is allowed to display the Katy Perry poster on football weekends — as long as it’s taken down by Monday.

“When they came in, I offered to let them put it up on football weekends — that seemed to be the focus of their desire for it, so to say,” Schmitt said, adding he’s “caught a little flak,” from fellow city officials for his decision.

“But nobody’s going to fire me, yet,” he said, laughing.

For the students, it means their popular MSU football tailgate parties can go on as before, under the watchful eye of Ms. Perry.

“We’re fans, we play her music all the time, obviously we think she’s an attractive lady,” Dimitry said. “All our friends loved it, everyone, when they asked where we lived, (asked) ‘Where’s the tailgate?’ we would say ‘Hey man, look for the big Katy Perry.’ It got a pretty good reception.”

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