Jersey City officials have removed more than two hundred newspaper boxes from the streets, angering publishers who say they weren't given a heads up and have had their free speech violated.

Last week, Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted a picture of the impounded boxes that said 240 had been removed, with more to go.

"We continue to remove these from the streets as many are non functioning, they clutter the sidewalks, and many just become trash cans," the mayor wrote. "If we accidentally took one that has permits to be there please reach out to [the Department of Public Works.]"

But the people at The Indypendent—a free, community-based paper out of Brooklyn—say the city couldn't tell them who regulates the news boxes.

"We would gladly comply with any regulations or permits that exist, but as far as we can tell they don't even have a permitting process," said Peter Rugh, associate editor for the Indypendent.

Rugh's right. After a day of phone calls to the DPW, the Division of Sanitation and City Hall, we found that unlike New York, where Department of Transportation regulates news racks, no such permits exist in Jersey City.

Rugh said Jersey City officials didn't contact The Indypendent before hauling their box away, despite keeping it clean and displaying the paper's contact information prominently. He said volunteers who regularly stock the box called the publication Tuesday to say it was missing.

"We're pretty upset about this. We have a First Amendment right to get the news out to people. So we view it as an affront not only to our newspaper and our readers, but to the press in general," Rugh said.

Same goes for the Hispanic weekly El Especialito. Anthony Ibarria, the publication's general manager, told us no one called before seizing the boxes.

Ward D Councilmember Michael Yun said he didn't know why Fulop had cleared every single news box.

"Those free newspapers serve a lot of people," Yun said, adding that several of the papers serve the city's immigrant community.

Yun said while some of the stands had been neglected, that wasn't reason enough to clear the whole lot.

"If the finger has an infection, you don't cut off the whole arm," Yun said.

Hanna Peterson, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said in an email the “City Council's next agenda includes a measure for new standards and locations for the boxes.”

“We felt that some were a security risk and some were abandoned. If someone wants to pick up their boxes, they can of course,” she wrote. “However, we ask that they wait to return them to the street until there is some clear permits and standards for the boxes.”

The Indypendent has a Change.org petition asking Fulop to return all the news racks. Community advocates also plan to protest City Hall on Grove Street at 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Rebeca Ibarra is an assistant producer for WNYC and works on the New Jersey desk.