It’s a crime to preach to the police in Holly Ridge, North Carolina.
The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a street preacher who, after calling on police officers to “repent,” was handcuffed, transported in a police car to the City’s law office, detained in County Jail, held on a $500 bond, and charged with disorderly conduct. Jesse Boyd and fellow street preacher Ricky Springer were peacefully exercising their free speech rights in a public park in Holly Ridge, N.C., this year on the Fourth of July when police told them that the small amplifier they were using to spread their message violated the town’s noise ordinance. Although the street preachers complied with the order to turn off the amplifier, police officers arrested Boyd after he declared, “Shame on you officers, this is the USA, not the Soviet Union,” and stated that the officers needed to “repent.”
That landed one of them in jail.
This is a free speech issue.
This is also a “how stupid can cops be?” issue.
On July 4, 2012, Jesse Boyd and Ricky Springer were engaged in free speech activity at a public park in Holly Ridge. Springer was preaching with the aid of a handheld amplification device in order to be heard above the din, while Boyd stood nearby recording his presentation. A Holly Ridge police officer, who was allegedly responding to a citizen complaint, approached Springer and informed him that his use of the amplification device was a violation of the Town’s noise ordinance, and that he must therefore turn it off. Springer complied with this order.
Then Boyd made a mistake.
Boyd then asked to speak with the officer’s supervisor, and complained to the chief of police that the order violated their First Amendment rights. As the officers walked away, Boyd called after them, “shame on you officers, this is the USA, not the Soviet Union,” and stated that the officers needed to “repent.” The officers walked back to the two men and instructed Boyd to go with them, handcuffing him without informing him of what law he had violated. While in police custody, he was not allowed to give his car keys to Springer, leaving Springer stranded at the park until relatives were able to come pick him up. The officers then drove Boyd to the County Jail, where he was finally charged with disorderly conduct. On July 10, the District Attorney dismissed the disorderly conduct charge.
The District Attorney is clearly wiser than the local cops.
Institute attorneys are demanding that Holly Ridge revise its noise ordinance, train its police force in better respecting the First Amendment, and pay monetary damages to Boyd and Springer.
If the damages are high enough, the police will revise its policies. Otherwise, it will take political action to replace the local chief of police.