So if they didn’t threaten her with arrest, she is free to make another and post it?
Every time, in every decade, you get only the legal rights you’re willing to go to court for, and maybe go to jail for pending your day in court. So: the only reasonable response if police threaten you with arrest when you’re exercising your civil rights is to smile and say ‘Let your conscience be your guide.’
As it is, the police can claim Ms. Stanford voluntarily handed over her sign, i.e., voluntarily surrendered her free-speech rights, and they would be both legally safe to say so and, sadly, correct.
I’ve politely called exactly such a bluff on a police department squad when they tried to (illegally) insist I depart from my mother’s house (and I was present at her request, and she was asleep upstairs). As I seemed to not intimidate easily, one of the officers said ‘If you’re not willing to leave, we’ll just have to take everyone down to the station.’ Their experience is that 99% of citizens panic and capitulate, which is exactly why they favour these methods of coercion. My own reaction was to smile and say ‘You could do that, but then there would be one hell of a lawsuit.’ Officer Friendly’s face said ‘Uh-oh’, she summoned the squad leader, everyone huddled for a minute, and the whole squad vacated without a word. It was most instructive.
Don’t physically resist, don’t argue. Just smile, exercise your legitimate legal rights, and be prepared to take their departmental budget in court if they don’t realise they have a losing hand.
And that’s the only way people’s rights remain their rights. Complaining to Internal Affairs and making noise on social media accomplishes nothing.
– Rick Moen
(e-mail address easily searchable if needed)
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