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Officials Fret ‘Effing BS’ Protest May Be Profanity Free-for-All

Brighton officials, steeling themselves for a foul weekend that has nothing to do with the forecast, urge parents to keep their children away from the Imagination Station play structure.

Authorities in Brighton are worried protestors at a free-speech rally near the Imagination Station won't zip their lips and will let profanities fly. (Patch file photo)
Authorities in Brighton are worried protestors at a free-speech rally near the Imagination Station won't zip their lips and will let profanities fly. (Patch file photo)

You had to see this coming:

Brighton officials are worried about Saturday’s “effing BS” rally, a Libertarian congressional candidate’s scheduled protest of a $200 ticket given to a teenager police said dropped the F-bomb within earshot of children.

So they’re asking parents to steer clear of the Imagination Station in the Mill Pond area, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The Brighton Imagination Station Facebook page included a warning that has been shared dozens of times:

“ … There is a protest scheduled to take place near the Brighton Imagination Station this Saturday May 31 from Noon until 3 p.m.. It is predicted that during the protest that some demonstrators will be using foul language and acting inappropriately. Parents may want to avoid this area with their children during that time. ...”

Libertarian James Weeks II, a candidate for Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, is organizing the free-speech rally Saturday to protest what he thinks was over-reaching by the Brighton police officer who slapped a 19-year-old Colin Andersen with a $200 ticket for insolently saying, “this is f------ b-------,” when police asked him and his friends to move along.

One of the group had been given a ticket for skateboarding in a prohibited area, and Andersen thought it was unfair that the entire group was asked to leave.

Weeks said he doesn’t want the rally to become a profanity laced free-for-all, but neither does he support censorship, the Free Press reported.

More:

Sgt. Robert Bradford of the Brighton Police Department said law enforcement authorities are most concerned about unruly behavior.

“We’re more concerned about their conduct, rather than what they’re going to say,” he told the Free Press.

He said officials can’t predict how large the crowd will be. On his campaign Facebook page, Weeks has invited anyone who cares about the First Amendment to attend the rally.

He asserts Brighton police violated Andersen’s First Amendment rights to free speech when they ticketed him under the city’s disorderly conduct ordinance and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan said Thursday, according to an earlier Detroit Free Press report.

ACLU Michigan successfully defended Timothy J. Boomer, the so-called “cussing canoeist,” in a  2002 case dubbed “The People v. Potty Mouth” by the New York Times.

In People v. Boomer, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that an archaic 1897 law banning 'indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar or insulting language'' in the presence of women or children was unconstitutional. The case stemmed from a 1999 canoe accident, when defendant Timothy J. Boomer let a string of vulgarities fly after he fell into an icy river.  Authorities claimed his rant could be heard a quarter of a mile away.

“Courts across the country have consistently ruled that cursing is speech protected by the First Amendment, regardless if people are within earshot,” ACLU of Michigan Deputy Director Rana Elmir said when the ACLU denounced the ticket given to Andersen, adding:

“I think we would all be in trouble if swearing wasn’t protected speech."

If you go:

  • When: 3 p.m., Saturday, May 31 Where: Public lot next to the Imagination Station playground at 201 N. First St.

What do you think?

  • Should bad language be enough to garner a criminal charge? Tell us what you think in the comments.
kimmita May 31, 2014 at 06:42 AM
That kid clearly has a lack of disrespect for authority. Only someone who is headed down the "wrong path" would talk like that in front of a police officer. He deserved the ticket, and I applaud the officer who gave it to him.
MaryLynn Bertetto May 31, 2014 at 08:27 AM
A "lack of disrespect" - really?
Keith Gillette May 31, 2014 at 08:31 AM
That's F'd Up! Lol
Ernie McLaughlin May 31, 2014 at 10:38 AM
If he wouldn't have given the police a hard time he would not have been fined-----he's a smart alec and deserved what he got. Other people have a right to expect respect of the law and a civil environment. James Week has lost my support.

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