Appeals Court Rules Ohio Cops Didn’t Have Cause To Arrest Man Wearing ‘Fuck the Police’ Shirt

The Ohio Sheriff’s Department didn’t believe there was probable cause for a man to be arrested for hurling vulgarities at them, and for wearing a tee shirt that read “fuck the cops,” according to the U.S. Court of Appeals. ruled Tuesday.

Sixth Circuit ruled that Michael Wood was entitled to have a group of deputies remove him from a county fair in 2016. This happened after someone complained about Wood’s shirt. According to the Sixth Circuit, deputies are also not eligible to qualified immunity in Wood’s lawsuit. Wood’s right for freedom from arrest is clearly established by numerous court opinions that protect obscene language directed towards authorities.

David Carey is the deputy legal director of American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. He filed an amicus Brief on behalf of Wood. “The ruling removes any doubt that criticism of police and their actions—even coarse and profane criticism—falls under the core protections of the First Amendment, and cannot be a lawful basis for an arrest on its own.”

According to court records, Wood was wearing the shirt to Clark County Fair on July 1, 2016, because of his past interactions with Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Wood believed that it was a “cesspool”. His opinion is likely to not have changed.

Wood was forced to flee after a complainant at the fair. Wood was happy to follow the order and began his way toward the exit. He rebuked the officer and the director.

“One, two and three, four, four, five, six, motherfuckers.” Wood counted the deputies that escorted him to the fair entrance. Wood said, “Fucking the thugs with guns which don’t respect the United States Constitution. You all are a rat bastard. You dirty rat bastards.”

Wood wanted to go through the fair’s back gate, even though the deputies insisted that they would just escort his way to the front gate. Then it’s your fucking fat problems, Motherfucker. Wood continued on his way to the exit while arguing with Fair Director. As Wood continued, the deputies debated whether or not they could arrest him.

Wood was eventually taken into custody and charged with disorderly conduct, obstruction. The charges against Wood were dropped later by the prosecutor. Wood brought a civil lawsuit against the six sheriff’s deputy officers, alleging that they had falsely arrested him and violated his First Amendment rights.

According to the Supreme Court’s 1942 ruling, Wood was arrested and subsequently released by deputies. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire. Although the doctrine remains valid today, its applications have been severely limited over time.

The U.S. District Court granted summary judgement in favor of Clark County sheriff’s deputies. It ruled that Woods’ speech wasn’t protected by the wider Ohio state court’s reading. Chaplinsky.

However, the Sixth Circuit reversed this order and found Ohio’s interpretations of fighting words doctrine inconsistent with federal precedent. It also noted that Wood’s speech, although profane, did not set the stage for violence.

Carey says that upholding the lower court ruling would have had “very disturbing implications—essentially creating a ‘race to the bottom’ situation, where police could disregard First Amendment protections that have been clearly established in federal court, as long as they could find a state court case that had been less protective of free speech.”

You can find a wide bodyFederal case lawUpholding the First Amendment RightTo flip or offend officers. In 1987, The Supreme Court Houston’s ordinance against verbal abuse of officers prohibits them from saying so. This Houston ordinance states that it is “one of the key characteristics to distinguish between a free nation and a police state”

Wood case: Sixth Circuit’s opinion notes that Wood previously ruledIn 2002, a Grand Rapids citizen had the constitutionally-protected right to label an officer “asshole” and ruled2016. The level of “fighting words” wasn’t reached by the phrase “fuck the cop”.

Even though courts have given clear direction, the police in every corner of the country are not following it. Mete OutIllegal arrests of people and tickets for hurt feelings. A 19-year old Utahn woman was arrested last year. Hate crime charges brought upFor allegedly toeing on the sign “Back the Blue” in front a police officer.

Last year, Tennessee police also arrested and charged an individual who had been involved in a robbery.Filled a First Amendment lawsuitTwo men were charged with harassment after posting an online photo that was doctored showing them peeing on a grave belonging to a police officer. The harassment accusation was dismissed by a judge.

An Iowa man won a lawsuitIn 2019, he was charged for third-degree harassment after posting online that a deputy sheriff was “stupid sum butch” and “butthurt.”

Tennessee resident ArrestIn 2017, he wrote in white paint, “Erin’s police chief are a bitch”, on the back his car.

Wood’s case is now being heard by a U.S. District Court.