A U.S. Military veteran and retired truck driver, who was arrested for a holding an indication with the message “God bless the homeless vets” in entrance of a Georgia metropolis corridor, filed two lawsuits Tuesday alleging his First Modification proper to talk freely exterior authorities buildings had been infringed upon.
“If the First Modification means something, it should imply that you would be able to maintain an indication in entrance of metropolis corridor with out being handcuffed,” The Basis for Particular person Rights and Expression (FIRE) lawyer Adam Steinbaugh instructed Fox Information Digital in an announcement. “We stay up for vindicating Jeff’s rights and reinforcing the rights of all.”
FIRE filed the 2 lawsuits on behalf of Jeff Grey, who sued the Metropolis of Alpharetta, Georgia, and two of its law enforcement officials and the police chief of the Metropolis of Blackshear, Georgia, for his repeated detainment, search and arrest, which he believes to be an infringement of his constitutional rights.
“I’ve been harassed, trespassed, handcuffed and arrested numerous occasions for peacefully exercising my First Modification rights,” Grey mentioned, in keeping with a report from FIRE. “My intention is to make sure that all Individuals from the wealthiest millionaire to the poorest homeless particular person can train these rights with out concern of consequence from our authorities.”
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In January 2022, whereas Grey stood on a public sidewalk exterior of Alpharetta Metropolis Corridor holding the signal that learn “God Bless the Homeless Vets,” police instructed him that the motion was a type of unlawful “panhandling,” in keeping with FIRE. Grey documented the scene along with his personal digicam to see how the general public and police would react.
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Grey instructed police that he was not asking anybody for cash, however even when he was, he has the fitting to take action underneath the First Modification, in keeping with FIRE. Police threatened arrest if he refused to cease.
Alpharetta police reportedly seized and turned off Grey’s video digicam, demanded to see his identification, searched him to search out it and banned him from the realm, which FIRE alleged is a violation of his First Modification proper to movie police in public locations, to talk with out being compelled to determine himself and to interact in expression in a public place.
“If that is how Alpharetta police deal with a man with a digicam, how do they act the remainder of the time?” Steinbaugh mentioned within the report. “The First Modification protects the fitting to carry up an indication — and it definitely protects the fitting to movie police exercise in a public house.”
In Blackshear, the town’s Police Chief Chris Wright issued Grey a legal quotation and him that he needed to have a allow for a “parade, procession, or demonstration” to carry his signal exterior metropolis corridor, in keeping with FIRE. Wright referred to as it “type of foolish,” however defined that in accordance with the town’s ordinance, which FIRE mentioned is sort of equivalent to a regulation struck down by the Supreme Court docket in 1969, Grey must ship a letter to the mayor and metropolis council explaining the aim of his demonstration and procure official approval to take action.
FIRE additionally despatched a letter to Blackshear’s mayor explaining that the lawsuit intends to carry an finish to the town’s permission-to-speak ordinance.
“Jeff Grey doesn’t want a government-issued permission slip to talk — the First Modification is his permission slip,” FIRE lawyer Harrison Rosenthal mentioned within the report. “Talking out in public areas is a core First Modification proper, whether or not authorities officers acknowledge it or not. If our cities gained’t educate officers to do their job correctly, FIRE will.”
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In 2011, Grey began importing recordings of what he calls “civil rights investigations” to his YouTube channel, HonorYourOath Civil Rights Investigations. In his movies, Grey peacefully asserts his First Modification rights in cities by means of the southeastern U.S. and paperwork each optimistic and detrimental interactions with police.
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