Protected Speech: “giving the finger”

Schwartz & Schwartz v. Insignia & Collins

Flipping-off the cops is totally constitutional
Published time: January 03, 2013 21:53
Edited time: January 04, 2013 01:54


Next time you see a police officer on patrol, go right ahead and give ‘em the finger. Don’t worry: a federal judge says it’s perfectly alright.

More than six years after John Swartz was handcuffed and arrested for flipping-off a police officer in St. Johnsville, New York, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit says he committed no crime.

Swartz was riding in the passenger side of his wife’s car in 2006 when he gave the finger to a police officer stationed nearby with a radar detector aimed at traffic. When the couple pulled up to their home, a cop came up behind them and asked for Judy Mayton-Swartz’ license and registration, to which her husband insisted she should refuse.

“Shut your mouth, your ass is in enough trouble,” Mr. Swartz recalls Officer Insogna telling him.

After the information was processed and Mr. Swartz exited the car outside of his home, he approached one of the four officers on the scene. “I’d like to speak to you man to man,” he recalls saying.

John Swartz remembers telling the officers that he felt “like an ass” for the whole ordeal, but he never managed to have the conversation that he wanted. Instead, he was handcuffed and charged with disorderly conduct.

According to court filings, the officer that Mr. Swartz initially flipped off considered the gesture a signal of distress. Insogna says he decided to initiate a traffic stop because it appeared Swartz was “trying to get my attention for some reason.”

“I thought that maybe there could be a problem in the car,” he told the court. “I just wanted to assure the safety of the passengers,” and “I was concerned for the female driver,” he added, citing the possibility of a domestic dispute within the vehicle. By the time the car was stopped, however, the officers learned that everyone was okay. Except for John, however, who was brought in to a local police station and released shortly thereafter.

A District Court initially dismissed a lawsuit waged by Swartz that alleged he had been falsely arrested, claiming Officer Insogna’s claim of a possible domestic disturbance wasn’t that far-fetched. The plaintiffs appealed, however, and this week an appellate judge agreed that giving the finger was not reason enough to warrant a stop.

“An irate automobile passenger’s act of ‘giving the finger,’ a gesture of insult known for centuries, to a policeman has led to a seizure of two persons ordered to return to an automobile, an arrest for disorderly conduct, a civil rights suit, and now this appeal,” Circuit Judiige Jon O. Newman writes this week. Newman has appealed the earlier decision that granted summary judgment to the defendants — Officer Insogna and a colleagues — and has remanded for further proceedings.

“The only act Insogna had observed prior to the stop that prompted him to initiate the stop was John’s giving the-finger gesture,” he adds. “Insogna acknowledged in his deposition that he had not observed any indication of a motor vehicle violation. He stated, somewhat inconsistently, that he thought John ‘was trying to get my attention for some reason’ and that he ‘was concerned for the female driver.’”

“Perhaps there is a police officer somewhere who would interpret an automobile passenger’s giving him the finger as a signal of distress, creating a suspicion that something occurring in the automobile warranted investigation. And perhaps that interpretation is what prompted Insogna to act, as he claims. But the nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness. This ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”

“Surely no passenger planning some wrongful conduct toward another occupant of an automobile would call attention to himself by giving the finger to a police officer. And if there might be an automobile passenger somewhere who will give the finger to a police officer as an ill-advised signal for help, it is far more consistent with all citizens’ protection against improper police apprehension to leave that highly unlikely signal without a response than to lend judicial approval to the stopping of every vehicle from which a passenger makes that gesture.”


Obama Executive Order to Ban LGBT Discrimination

Obama Executive Order to Ban LGBT Discrimination

Updated 3:45 p.m. | President Barack Obama plans to use his pen to ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by federal contractors — an idea that the White House has resisted for years as it pursued passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in Congress.

The news, announced via email, received instant applause from gay rights advocates.

“With this announcement, the arc of history bends a little farther toward justice,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, the lead ENDA sponsor.

Merkley continued: “Discrimination simply has no place in American workplaces. This executive order will allow millions more Americans to go to work empowered with the right to do their jobs free of harassment or discrimination.

“Most Americans don’t know that it’s still legal in many states to fire someone for their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s because it not only defies common sense, it goes wholly against who we are as a nation. No more excuses. It’s way past time for Speaker [John A.] Boehner to allow ENDA to have a vote in the House. No one should be fired because of who they are or whom they love.”

Most congressional Democrats had been urging Obama to pursue the executive order for months — and some for years. The White House had no answer when asked repeatedly at daily briefings why Obama had issued executive orders on the minimum wage and other issues affecting federal contractors, but not on ending discrimination.

But the decision, announced a day before the president headlines the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT gala in New York, could help energize the party — and its donor base — ahead of the midterm elections.

The White House touted it alongside other achievements for gay rights in Obama’s tenure, including an expansion of the hate crimes law, adding LGBT provisions to the Violence Against Women Act and repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force also issued a statement, calling the decision “a major step forward in the struggle for freedom and justice for LGBTQ workers and their families.”

Prospects for a House vote on the Senate-passed ENDA bill remain in doubt, despite its 205 co-sponsors and strong poll results on the issue.

Democrats — and the White House — made clear that the executive order isn’t a substitute for congressional action.

“The reality is that many LGBT workers still remain vulnerable to employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, in a statement. “Without the enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, it remains perfectly legal to do so in many states across the country.”

“The House Republican leadership should take note of the bipartisan vote in the Senate and the broad public support that exists for ENDA and allow a vote on this legislation,” said Rep. David Ciccilline, D-R.I., a co-chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“We need to give LGBT workers a fair shot to get ahead in life by making sure employers cannot fire, harass, deny a raise, or refuse to hire someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., another co-chairman of the caucus.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, who voted for ENDA in the Senate, urged the president to include the same exemptions.

“While the specifics of this executive order are not yet clear, I believe it must include the same religious protections that are included in the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act that passed the Senate,” he said. “ENDA strikes a good balance to ensure that discrimination based on sexual orientation will not be tolerated, but also that one of our nation’s fundamental — religious freedom — is still upheld.”

Other Republican lawmakers didn’t immediately react to the news.

Here’s a memo from a White House official announcing Obama’s action.

The President has declared 2014 a year of action — vowing to use the power of his pen and phone to take action on behalf of the American people to strengthen the economy and the middle class. His actions have been driven by the core American principle that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should have the opportunity to succeed, and that your ability to get ahead should be determined by your hard work, ambition, and goals — not by the circumstances of your birth, your sexual orientation or gender identity.

Today, millions of Americans in most states in the country go to work every day knowing they could lose their jobs simply because of who they are or who they love. No current federal law adequately protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers from employment discrimination. That’s why the President has long supported federal legislation to explicitly prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Last November, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) with strong bipartisan support. However, the House has failed to act on this important legislation.

Following on his pledge for this to be a year of action to expand opportunity for all Americans, the President has directed his staff to prepare for his signature an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The action would build upon existing protections, which generally prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This is consistent with the President’s views that all Americans, LGBT or not, should be treated with dignity and respect.

President Obama is proud of the accomplishments he and his Administration have made to advance and promote equality, justice, and dignity for all members of the LGBT community. From signing an inclusive Hate Crimes law to passing the Affordable Care Act, from reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act with provisions to protect LGBT victims to ensuring equality in federal housing, we have taken many important steps forward. While work remains to ensure that all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, are equal under the law, we look forward to continuing to make progress in the months and years ahead.

Man Who Shot at Cops During No-Knock Raid Acquitted on All Charges

Man Who Shot at Cops During No-Knock Raid Acquitted on All Charges

“When I knew they were policemen, I lay down, face down. I kept saying, ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’”
July 10, 2014

After a 9 hour deliberation, a jury has found Adrian Perryman, not guilty on all four counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer.

The incident that led to the charges against Perryman happened during the pre-dawn hours of October 26, 2010 in San Antonio, TX.

SAPD’s tactical response unit was executing a no-knock search warrant. The occupants in the house at the time were Perryman, his girlfriend Rebecca Flores, and Flores’s 3 year old grand daughter Savannah.

When Flores saw two shadowy men on the security cameras, she woke up Perryman, and tossed him his gun.

According to MySA News, Flores recalled the events of that night to the jury. “I put my body over Savannah’s,” she said, recalling for jurors what she did in the moments after handing Perryman the gun and before he opened fire. “He said ‘I’ve got a gun and I’m going to shoot — stay out!’”

Flores said it wasn’t until after he fired four shots that she heard anyone yelling “Police!”

“I remember telling him the police were here; I thought they were there to protect us. I said ‘Oh, thank God,’” she said.

Perryman took the stand in his defense last week and told jurors how he had shouted a warning before he heard the front door go down and “unloaded” his gun.

“When I knew they were policemen, I lay down, face down,” he said, adding he dropped the gun and began apologizing. “I kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was y’all. I’ve been broken into before.’”

This is a landmark case in the instance of no-knock raids. All too often we see innocent people beaten and killed during the execution of this questionable practice.

Hopefully this leads to a drop in the frequency of no-knock search warrants.

The details of the latest victim in the relentless and immoral war on drugs were released this week by the Tampa Bay Times.

A 29-year old man was gunned down in his own home by officers serving a no-knock search warrant. They found .2 grams of marijuana.

How many more grenades will have to be thrown into cribs before police realize that the war on drugs was lost as soon as it started?

Shariah Law in American Courts

Shariah Law & American State Courts

Shariah Cases By State
From Shariah Law and American State Courts: An Assessment of State Appellate Court Cases:

This study analyzes and discusses a total of 50 cases from 23 different states: 6 cases were found in New Jersey; 5 in California; 4 each in Florida, Massachusetts and Washington; 3 each in Maryland, Texas and Virginia; 2 each in Iowa, Louisiana and Nebraska; and 1 each in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio and South Carolina.

Who would have thought, there are active cases in 23 different states where Shariah Law is being consulted and/or referred to in our American courts. Liberal America is attempting to infuse foreign decisions of foreign courts within our justice system. This will be partly to blame for the downfall of America. You cannot create any more of a war on women in this country than attempting to instill the Shariah Laws in our system of Justice!

Beware of what you permit, you may not appreciate the long term possibilities!