“F*** police” is political speech, a US court ruled. A woman who was arrested for swearing and raising a middle finger at law enforcers has been acquitted and awarded $100,000 in settlement.
Amy Barnes, a well-known political activist in Marietta, Georgia, had her freedom of speech right violated when she was arrested for yelling curses at police in 2012, according to Cobb County State Judge Melodie Clayton.
“The defendant’s statements, although offensive to this court, clearly constitute political speech,” Clayton wrote in her acquittal of Barnes, cited by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
The court decision is mainly praised in online comments, and a number draw parallels to the recent lawsuits over police brutality, in which decisions were made in favor of law enforcers.
“She’s lucky to be alive. Had a black man done the same thing he would be gunned down in self-defense,” a comment on The Huffington Post reads.
Barnes was passing two police officers on her bicycle interrogating a black man in 2012, when she screamed at the group “Cobb police suck” and “F*** the police.”
The police went after the woman, arrested her and held her in detention for around 24 hours, six of them in solitary confinement.
Barnes was charged with disorderly conduct and abuse words “to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”