In August of 2009, a spat between two neighbors ended with police involvement and troubling consequences for free speech. A neighborhood dispute went public when one woman posted a sign with the word “psycho” on her truck and parked the truck facing her neighbor’s home. When the neighbor called the Grand Junction police, officers rushed to the scene and promptly cited the sign’s owner for “disorderly conduct.” While letting the world know that you think your neighbor is a psycho may not be the best method for resolving disputes, the First Amendment unquestionably protects the right for everyone to speak their mind. The government cannot seek jail time and fines merely because a police officer believes a person’s speech is rude or insulting. ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney Taylor Pendergrass contacted the Grand Junction City Attorney’s office, inquiring whether the city intended to compound its officers’ initial error by prosecuting the woman for disorderly conduct. The City subsequently dismissed the charge.
Taylor Pendergrass , ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney
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