“F*ck the Police” Arrest Leads to $100,000 Settlement in Cobb County

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amy barnes(APN) ATLANTA — In the spring of 2012, Amy Barnes, a Cobb County resident and activist with Occupy Atlanta, was riding her bicycle when she saw two police officers questioning a Black man outside a convenience store.  As she rode by on her bicycle, she gave them the middle finger salute and shouted “Fuck the police,” and “Police suck.”

 

Her response was prompted by anger at all the police harassment that she says she had witnessed in her neighborhood for years.

 

“The police had been shaking people down in my neighborhood for nothing at all.  I’ve seen other Black men being shaken down for just standing outside,” Barnes told Atlanta Progressive News.

 

Instead of ignoring her free speech outburst, they chased and arrested her, and put her in the Cobb County Jail, where she stayed for 23 hours, six in solitary confinement.  She was charged with disorderly conduct.

 

The police officers Brian Scurr and Dipa Patel claim that Barnes attempted to incite violence or was engaged in a form of physical confrontation, according to the Marietta Daily Journal newspaper.  However, the evidence did not support their claim.

 

Barnes filed a motion to dismiss the charges, claiming the arrest violated her free speech.  The dismissal was granted by State Court Judge Melodie Clayton, who concluded the officers took issue with what Ms. Barnes said and were determined to arrest her.

 

After the charge was dropped, Barnes filed a lawsuit alleging the Cobb County Police Department had violated her constitutional rights to free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the U.S., by unlawfully arresting her for verbally protesting while riding a bicycle on a public street.

 

Two years later, Cobb County has agreed to pay Barnes 100,000 dollars to settle the free speech lawsuit she brought in federal court.

 

“The Amy Barnes case arose because there was not sufficient training around the issue of when an officer can and cannot arrest someone because of their speech.  The officers need to know that if someone is just speaking out and not disrupting an arrest, they cannot be subject to arrest,” Gerald Weber, an attorney for Barnes, told APN.

 

“With the Atlanta Police Department there’s some required training as a result of some lawsuits we’ve done.  With other departments there is a training problem,” Weber said.

 

“I have been witnessing a higher level of arrests in ‘contempt of cop’ cases, where someone says something to a police officer that upset the officer,” Weber said.

 

Weber said that other categories where arrests are increasing are where someone is filming an arrest.  During protests, people in the vicinity are arrested who may be bystanders watching or even reporters who get arrested along with everyone else.

 

Barnes is not the first person to sue in Cobb County over freedom of speech.  In April 2009, Mary Krikendoll left a Smyrna town hall meeting and on the way out shouted “This is [expletive]!”  She was arrested and jailed for two hours.

 

She also filed a federal lawsuit, alleging her free speech rights had been violated and was falsely imprisoned.  She won 85,000 dollars.  One would think Cobb County would learn that they cannot put people in jail for what they say.

 

Cynthia Counts was Krikendoll’s attorney and also a co-counsel in Barnes’s lawsuit.

 

Profanity spoke to police officers or in a public meeting may be rude and disrespectful, but it is not against the law.  Sometimes it is the most appropriate expression of a situation and no should ever go to jail for speaking the truth.

 

(END/2014)

9 comments

  • Oh to the contrary……… I was born and raised in the state of Georgia. Profanity and leud gestures have always been against the law on the law books in Georgia for over 100 years! There is a difference between free speech and disrespectful behavior to the law authorities!! That is exactly what the problem is in this millenial age of thinking. If the lawyers, judges, government officials continue to not defend and uphold and enforce respect for the same government organization as the Police Departments to uphold the laws, this City of Atlanta and this Country will be nothing but a place for a bunch of indigents who believe they are entitled to everything and the world owes them everything and they don’t have to respect the law and the elected authorities!!

    • Your a ignoramus, people are not threatning violence then they can say what they want. Stupid ass police officers acting on ego, will continue to cost tax payers millions. Slavery is over, we the people have no masters. These officers have a grandiose sense of themselves, and are not acting to preserve or uphold the law. They are in fact breaking laws!!

    • Thank you for your comment Liz. Unfortunately your statement that these things have been against the law for a hundred years does not stand up to scrutiny. Because we’re that the case the police will have an absolute defense to the lawsuits in question. And since the lawsuits and question were settled for very large amounts of money that gives the indication that these 100 year old laws did not play a role. That said even if the Lost did play a role they would be unconstitutional on their face and therefore the same result. I know that people get bristled when those who are supposed to uphold the law get disrespected Karma and I’m going to make the assumption that you’re white, and as a white person one of the privileged people that can actually call the police when they’re in trouble it is understandable why you would come to the aid of those people who aid you. But what you must understand is that those people that you hold dear don’t aid everyone

    • The Criminal Liz, everything you just said is motivated, by lies, racism, corruption, against the courts’ ruling and proves you are the most common criminal of all, the Police, no on in this thread believes you anyway and you are lying about the content of the article. You think someone will believe you because your brand of scum usually gets away with whatever it wants. What is your badge number? The truth about Freedom of Speech is that you post offensive lies and evil on the internet, but we can’t track you down and beat you, it is still against the laws that you just proved that you don’t support. Over a hundred years ago, racists like you created laws that ban interracial marriages. Only a criminal like you would even attempt to pretend that the abuse you support is okay. Your criminal friends didn’t even get away with it this time. The victim got her $100,000 and the Lawyers and JUDGE just used a LAW to give it to her! The Police have no respect for anyone and that is why the victim flipped of the government deceiving and exploiting criminals that you hang out with! THE LEGAL SYSTEM WORKED YOU FRAUD!!!!!!! Your scumbag buddies owe $100,000 and everyone else can read that!

      “Profanity spoke to police officers or in a public meeting may be rude and disrespectful, but it is not against the law. Sometimes it is the most appropriate expression of a situation and no should ever go to jail for speaking the truth.”

      There is it for you, you have now contradicted a courtroom decision and think it is possible that anyone would fall for it! You have a sick mind and what was said in the first place was a compliment!

      Regarding indigents, the some of the many people that you discriminate against people that were taken from their homes in Africa and were forced to live without homes for hundreds of years. Then there are the indigents that your cult used to learn to grow crops from, then massacred, violated peace treaties, slandered, sabotaged, are still disadvantaged now and are referred using a country over 10,000 miles away!

      Because you are still pretending that you could ever tell things the way they are you brought you talk about elected officials, but no elected officials were involved. Whoever raised you, obviously had too much money resulting from plantation related crimes and not a shred of decency! The real problems in this country, always have been, still are and always will be people exactly like you!

      I can’t stand being classified as the same species as you and that makes you an inferior life form! There aren’t any criminals to stick up for you evil here, so go cry about it, because not even the courts believe a word you say! Get off the internet and go infest a different country, you pathologically lying parasite!

  • Good for her. Liz is an old hag comes from a time when the police could lock anyone up that looks different. No different from the woman that got emmit till killed. Hopefully your generation dies out when trump takes your healthcare/medicare away.

    • To the person that wrote “Profanity and leud gestures have always been against the law on the law books in Georgia for over 100 years!”
      blah, blah, blah, blah blah…..whatever. I am late writing my post, just came across this. Because I was arrested falsely in 2015 for a DUI from Smyrna and happen to be skimming google for crap like this and found it. I am so happy this lady did what she did. I was 100% sober. Was on NOTHING at all. The officer after I passed all tests and blew a ZERO, decided to handcuff me based on “I don’t like the gait in your eyes”. Then proceeds to take me to the jail, holds me all night, then has me hauled off to the hospital for blood work, that comes back normal. Then I go home. Guess what he does next? FOUR MONTHS LATER…after having my husband come and get the car on video that NIGHT, never searching the car mind you, again ALL ON VIDEO, he goes in 4 months later and says he found a SOMA pill in the car and charges me with POSSESSION OF DRUGS> This cop had a problem with me personally. I found out later my son had run from him and gotten away. Because of this, he decided to give me a hard time. He almost ruined my life. Everything mysteriously disappeared. By the grace of God and Jesus Christ that is. *not kidding you*. Smyrna Cop, Office Stephens, and I am not afraid to say his name. He hated me without cause. Just like Jesus Christ was hated without cause. So was I. Imagine being hated without cause. By an officer of the law. Imagine an office of the law lying on you, and putting false charges on you all because he hates you. Imagine being hated like that and the man doesn’t even know you. Never met you, never had a conversation with you. Now that is something he will face God , Eternal Father in judgment. This is a true enemy, that I have had to humble myself and pray for. One of the hardest things I have had to do as a Catholic woman.
      What is the world coming to. Thank you LIZ good, good GOOD, JOB>

  • Officer Stephens

    It is against the law in GA to cuss with a child 14 yrs or younger around to hear it. Amy did not know if a store manager had called the cops to have guys leave the hang out spot. Bet she did not donate that cash to a good cause. At the very least, cops should have broken that middle finger off. B has no clue how hard being a cop it.

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