Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Horrible Police Action

Man sues after "POLICE" t-shirt arrest
By Nicholas J.C. Pistor

A Belleville Police officer arrested a St. Charles man for wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word "POLICE."

Now, Adam C. Weinstein, of St. Charles, has sued the department for what he calls a violation of his constitutional rights.

According to police documents, Weinstein was arrested in 2006 outside a bar in Belleville for "impersonating officers." He was wearing a black t-shirt with the word police striped across the front and back under a sweater. The t-shirt became exposed when he removed the sweater because he was hot.

"Those t-shirts are a sign of solidarity," said Howard A. Shalowitz, an attorney representing Weinstein. "How many people wear NYPD caps? Are they impersonating police?"

According to the lawsuit, a waitress told Weinstein that some police officers wanted to speak with him outside the bar. Weinstein went outside, he said, and was greeted by Belleville Police Officer Jeff Vernatti.

Vernatti, Weinstein alleges, asked him for his police credentials. Weinstein says he told the officer he didn’t have any credentials because he wasn’t a police officer.

That’s when, according to Weinstein, the police officer started screaming curse words and became physically and verbally abusive. Weinstein says he was cuffed and later released by the officer, but made to take the t-shirt off while standing in the cold.

Weinstein was ticketed for impersonating a police officer, but it was later dismissed. The ticket only alleges Weinstein wore the t-shirt.

"I’m afraid to go to Belleville," Weinstein said in an interview. According to the lawsuit, Weinstein is a firefighter.

Weinstein said he bought two of the shirts--one for him, one for his wife--at Leon’s Uniform Company in St. Louis while buying supplies for firefighting.

The lawsuit was filed last week in St. Clair County. Vernatti and the city of Bellevile are named as defendents.

In 2005, Vernatti and the city of Belleville were sued for allegedly tasering a man. That case was later settled before going to trial.

Belleville Mayor Mark W. Eckert declined to comment through an aide. A spokesperson for the Belleville Police also declined to comment. Vernatti couldn’t be reached for comment.

Steven Beckett, professor and director of trial advocacy at the University of Illinois’ law school, said the arrest may be a violation of Weinstein’s First Amendment rights.

"A t-shirt alone isn’t enough to arrest someone," Beckett said. "There must be some overt act."

Beckett added: "The police complaint on its face is inconsistent with the First Amendment."

[snark]Send lots money to The Whirlpool. It will be used to join the thousands of angry citizens purchasing "POLICE" t-shirts and buying airline tickets to Belleville, Illinois.[/snark]

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At 4:08 AM, Blogger The Rambling Taoist said...

Does this mean that if I wear a t-shirt with the word "JESUS" emblazoned across the front that I may be crucified?

At 7:19 AM, Blogger Stash said...

Makes sense to me.

At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Vmann said...

Only one side of the story. So the police just happened to show up and know someone was in there wearing a police shirt. I'm going to take a stab in the dark that Wienstien did a little more than just simply wearing a tee and minding his on business. If I'm wrong then so be it but seems like a one sided point of view.

I know its a fad but why take the chance of someone needing a cop and thinking you are one.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Stash said...

Vmann, thanks for your comments. If it is illegal to wear a tee that says POLICE, then they should be illegal to sell and the gentleman should have been charged. If it's not illegal and the cops just don't like it, tough shit.

I agree there is often more to the story, but this is all I found.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Stash said...

More information:



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