GIVING THE FINGER TO A POLICE OFFICER: FREE SPEECH OR NOT?


2-4-2018

From the KC Star

It happens all the time: Somebody cuts off a driver in traffic, and the motorist replies with a one-finger salute.

But what if that bird was flown at a cop?

An Indiana man admits he flipped off a state trooper last summer. But Mark May of Terre Haute, who was ticketed for the act, says in a lawsuit that the gesture was free speech and that his constitutional rights were violated.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday against Indiana State Police Master Trooper Matt Ames, the Tribune-Star reported. He is seeking unspecified damages in the complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for unlimited digital access to our website, apps, the digital newspaper and more.

In the lawsuit, May says that on Aug. 21, he gave the finger to Ames as May drove past Ames, who had stopped another motorist along U.S. 41.

According to the complaint, Ames “aggressively cut in front” of May at an intersection in Terre Haute, Newsweek reports. May said he was annoyed because he thought the chase was “not a wise use of police resources.”

May was issued a “provocation” ticket.

According to the Indiana Criminal Code, the ticket, which carries a fine of up to $500, is issued when “a person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engages in conduct that is likely to provoke a reasonable person to commit battery commits provocation.”

But Kenneth Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, argued that May’s gesture to Ames was expressive conduct fully protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“While perhaps ill advised, Mr. May’s gesture, which in no way interfered with the Master Trooper’s lawful activities, was fully protected by the First Amendment,” Falk said.

Falk added that the trooper “had no cause whatsoever to initiate the stop.”

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “GIVING THE FINGER TO A POLICE OFFICER: FREE SPEECH OR NOT?

  1. May was within his constitutional rights and has a valid lawsuit. There are many fine constitutional rights organizations that would have taken this case on a pro bono basis. It is unfortunate that May chose to go with the ACLU, whose track record shows the organization more often than not, argues against Second Amendment rights.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s