Sheriff Goes All In On Violating The First Amendment After Assaulting A Protester For Carrying A 'F*CK TRUMP' Sign
from the hope-the-county-tells-him-he-has-to-pay-for-his-own-lawyer dept
A whole lot of attention — and thousands of cellphone cameras — are focused on law enforcement officers. Nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis PD officer Derek Chauvin have aimed a lot of unblinking eyes at officers around the country.
Unfortunately for the protesters — and Americans in general — a great number of officers have chosen to behave badly. Journalists have been targeted, teargassed, and arrested. Peaceful protests are being greeted with violence from police officers, who seem unable to comprehend just how quickly and thoroughly they’re making the protesters’ points for them.
Via Adam Steinbaugh comes yet another protest-related act of violence and stupidity by a law enforcement officer. This one, however, sits at the top of his county’s food chain. And he’s apparently unaware of the First Amendment, Supreme Court precedent, or how to properly respond to nothing more than a (self-censored no less!) profanity.
Actual video exists of this confrontation, which has led to stupider and stupider things in the days following this sheriff’s initial reaction:
Lowndes County, Georgia Sheriff ASHLEY PAULK wraps his hands around woman?s neck after she attempts to take her sign back after he grabbed it from her. Same county where #KendrickJohnson was murdered. #blm #Blacklivesmatter #8cantwait pic.twitter.com/M4uqwT5hXv
— BLM // kayleigh (@airguitarsolos) June 4, 2020
Having stolen a sign from a demonstrator — one that said “F*CK TRUMP” — Sheriff Ashley Paulk then decided to grab the woman with the nearly-foulmouthed sign by the neck and shove her around for a bit.
He then doubled-down on his initial error by keeping the sign and declaring he needed it for an “investigation.”
No one but Sheriff Paulk seems to know what he’ll be investigating, especially since there’s nearly 50-year-old Supreme Court precedent on the books saying profanity is protected by the First Amendment, especially in “political” contexts, which these demonstrations clearly are.
Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk says his office will arrest protesters holding signs with profanity, after getting in a brief scuffle Wednesday when he took a sign away from a group in downtown Valdosta.
There are even more dubious assertions further down in the article:
The sheriff says he supports the group’s right to protest peacefully, but he does not want them showing signs with profanity.
Oh ok. I guess bad words are now literal violence. That’s a dumb take. But this is even dumber. This assertion makes it clear he feels the journalists he’s speaking to are dumber than he is.
He went to get the sign after getting several calls complaining about the language, the sheriff says.
Even if true — which seems unlikely — the government doesn’t get to engage in content-based speech restrictions just because some locals are unhappy.
In support, Sheriff Paulk cites a law that doesn’t say what he thinks it does.
Georgia law… makes it a misdemeanor to use obscene, vulgar or profane language in the presence of a person under age 14, which threatens an immediate breach of the peace.
That last clause carries all of the weight and Paulk completely ignores it. The use of profane language in the presence of a person under the age of 14 has to “threaten an immediate breach of peace” to be illegal. Simply swearing (or in this case, almost swearing) in the presumed presence of certain minors isn’t a crime by itself.
So, guided by his own wrong assumptions, the sheriff is now loading up on civil causes of action.
A young woman was arrested for holding a sign displaying obscene language that alludes to a lewd act between Sheriff Ashley Paulk and President Donald Trump.
Sheriff Paulk doesn’t deserve to keep his job. Residents of Lowndes County should take this opportunity to vote him out… oh.
He is running for re-election this year, and is unopposed.
Pretty sure an empty office would be doing a better job handling these very mild (and very mildly profane) protests. Running unopposed guarantees Sheriff Paulk will stay in office long enough to make it easy to serve him with lawsuits, but it’s not going to make the state of policing any better in Lowndes County.