"Can the police arrest me for giving them the finger?"
A Western District of Pennsylvania federal court judge, David Cercone, has recently ruled that giving a police officer the middle finger is protected speech under the First Amendment, and not a criminal act.
Back in 2006, a fellow named David Hackbart was having a bad day. After flashing his middle finger at a fellow motorist, and then making that same gesture toward a Pittsburgh Police Officer, the officer cited Hackbart for disorderly conduct as a summary offense. After being found guilty by a local magistrate, Hackbart appealed and won his case via a voluntary dismissal from the DA. Then, in a move requiring a whole lot of chutzpah, Hackbart turned around and sued the police for violating his civil rights. Judge Cercone has denied summary judgment for the police officer and found that the lawsuit may go forward, because giving a cop the finger is lawful.
Labels: civil rights, disorderly conduct, summary offense