Free speech? Or free ride?
October 17, 2012 01:56 AM | 3048 views | 13 13 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Amy Barnes of Marietta has come up with a pretty nifty way of provoking the police, boosting her status in the “Occupy” movement and possibly improving her financial status, all at the same time. It will be a pretty neat trick if she can pull it off. Her plan goes like this:

A: Attack police officers.

B: Sue police after they arrest you, claiming “victim” status.

C: Win suit.

D: Collect thousands in damages.

E: Gain “hero” status among fellow Occupiers.

One of the underreported aspects of the ostensibly non-violent “Occupy” movement was the violence displayed toward police and other symbols of authority by its scruffy supporters.

While the major media was portraying them as well-meaning young people demonstrating on behalf of the downtrodden, most of those outlets ignored the violent underside of that movement. According to the group Occupy Wall Street Exposed, the movement was responsible for a dozen deaths, including three murders, as well as more than a dozen rapes and dozens of cases of indecent exposure, such as the case of an Occupier who chose to defecate on a police car.

Whatever thin moral justification the movement still claimed went up in smoke when five members of the Cleveland Occupy movement were arrested on May Day for plotting to blow up a bridge used by commuters.

But you didn’t read much about any of that in the mainstream media, which often was more interested in reporting on so-called cases of “police violence” allegedly provoked by the demonstrators.

And that brings us back to Ms. Barnes.

The self-professed Occupy member was pedaling her bicycle down Austell Road on Easter Sunday when she happened to see a pair of Cobb Police officers questioning two teenagers outside a convenience store. Apparently taking the approach that “the cops are guilty” — and despite having no knowledge of why the two kids had been stopped — she flipped off the police and shouted the f-word at them as well.

Not a wise idea. Cussing police and making obscene gestures at them might pass for stylish entertainment at Occupy encampments in Lower Manhattan, but not in south Cobb.

They followed her and arrested her a few blocks away. She was charged with disorderly conduct and by her account spent 23 hours in jail, six of them in solitary confinement — which she equates with torture.

She now has procured an attorney and is planning to file a federal lawsuit. She apparently is inspired not only by the Occupy movement, but by the experience of Smyrna’s Mary Kirkendoll, who last week settled her First Amendment lawsuit against the City of Smyrna for $85,000. Kirkendoll had been arrested after using a curse word in frustration at City Hall after a Council meeting back in 2009.

Barnes said she was told she was arrested not for cursing the police, but for making a lewd gesture in front of children. That might in fact have been the case, or it could just be an after-the-fact attempt at justification by the police. There’s no way at this point for the public to know.

And Barnes’ lawyer is correct that the police cannot just chase down and arrest someone who says something impolite or hurts their feelings. The First Amendment protects nearly all speech in this country, whether articulate and well-reasoned or inarticulate and mean-spirited, as in Ms. Barnes’ case.

But Ms. Barnes cleverly is trying to have it both ways: provoking police on the one hand, then after that didn’t work out so well, posing as a champion of free speech.

She’s putting Cobb taxpayers on the hook while painting herself as the hero and the police as the bad guys. But then, that’s what the Occupy Movement is all about, isn’t it?
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I am livid
October 20, 2012
I am livid that taxpayers money is going to be wasted on this piece of do-nothingness! Tell her to get a job! In another time, the sheriff could have simply escorted her to the county line and told her not to come back! Her problem seems to be to want to be in the public eye! What a loser!
October 17, 2012
You claim she ATTACKED the cops ("Attack police officers"). When??? You go on to say she called them names and flipped them off (which is protected speech)- where is the ATTACK you claim???
Derek Rich
October 17, 2012
There’s no way at this point for the public to know.
Derek Rich
October 18, 2012
All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited.
Occupy the Bridge
October 17, 2012
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Occupy Cleveland Facebook page said the bomb plot suspects were "associated'' with Occupy Cleveland though they "were in no way representing or acting on behalf" of Occupy Cleveland. The bombers planned their event for May Day, which was significant in the Occupy Movement. Other May Day protests by Occupy groups were violent. Just saying.
Veteran Observer
October 17, 2012
Ms Barnes has obviously not matured enough to be a viable citizen in our society! She reminds me of middle school males who cannot help themselves and say and do the strangest things! The entire "occupy" movement is rudderless and unfocused and an unimportant footnote to a slow news year. The only people that care are the surplus reporters searching for stories and spineless politicians like Mayor Kasim Reed, who thought he could dance with them, but finally had to uphold the law and evict them from public property after thousands of dollars of damages!
October 17, 2012
What a completely dishonest, ignorant, ridiculous editorial.

The MDJ cites a discredited website (OWS Exposed) for some of its false claims. And they falsely claim that the 5 men in Cleveland arrested for the bridge plot were Occupy supporters. That is a lie.

Occupy is the real deal, and it isn't going away, despite what the MDJ wishes.
mk- give me a break-
October 17, 2012
Turn on the TV or radio, see a movie, walk through any middle or high school, go to any sports event, football, baseball, soccer, walk through the malls, or along city streets, just about anywhere you go anymore, you will hear language, that maybe 30 years ago was not as common , publicly.

Cussing is fairly common in this day and age.

If you arrest one, you must arrest all, even small children that pick these words up just about everywhere!

This is most ridiculous!

We aren't a country of saints, and need to quit pretending to be!

October 17, 2012
Ms. Barnes is a idiot and the cops overreacted because their got their feelings hurt.

The cops should have just ignored her vulgar display and depended on someone texting on their cellphone to run her down.

If that had happened everyone would have been better off.
October 17, 2012
If my previous comment is not posted, then the MDJ is censoring comments over content!
mk..the truth
October 17, 2012
..if the MDJ wants to to an HONEST piece of journalism on why I was arrested at the Smyrna town hall meeting, just give me a call, I'm available. I'm waiting.
Noreen Cochran
October 17, 2012
Mary, we reached out to you before and will again very soon.
mary kirkendoll
October 17, 2012
My comment to this article is to clarify the reason I arrested at a Smyrna townhall meeting in April of 2009. Enduring the cities exaggeration that Belmont Hills and Jonquil were about to become high end multi-million dollar mixed use developments,(both are still sitting vacant), I had heard enough and as I was walking out of the meeting I stated the meeting was 'BULL#&%*' and the city was not ever going to be honest.

That gave the police their 'excuse' to grab me from behind & escort me to jail.

The REAL reason I was arrested was the mayor of Smyrna intended to show me who was BOSS around Smyrna. They do not ALLOW people to put facts out about the misuse of our tax dollars, nor QUESTION said officials!

I was told by Jennifer Bennet (Smyrna communications director) as I was speaking to Marc Picard, the meetings anchor, BEFORE the meeting started, that if I didn't SIT DOWN, she would have me personally ESCORTED out of the meeting.

It was PLANNED all along!

The city spent 100,000's of 1,000's protecting this mayor from my case going to court!

My situation in no way can be compared to why Amy Barnes was arrested, tho' I still support her 1st amendment rights.
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