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Thread: Man sues after "POLICE" t-shirt arrest

  1. #1
    Regular Member Mainsail's Avatar
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    This seems applicable to open carry.

    Man sues after "POLICE" t-shirt arrest



    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

    12/30/2008

    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."

    npistor@post-dispatch.com | 618-624-2577

  2. #2
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    He's polite. He's a firefighter.

    They're in trouble, and they deserve it.

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    I wonder how the officer would have reacted if the word on the T was spelled PO LICE?

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    how dare you impersonate higher class citizens. peasent

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    A badge I can understand, especially if it looks like a police badge. But a shirt? Seriously?

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    FogRider wrote:
    A badge I can understand, especially if it looks like a police badge. But a shirt? Seriously?
    Well, maybe it looked like those cute little pique knit polo shirts bicycle cops wear. The ones that say "POLICE" across the back.As though the guns, tasers, and radios on their belt, and the little iron-on patch badge didn't give a clue.


    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    You know you can buy shirts that say "FBI" on them and nobody will bother you, You can buy any number of official looking cloths and nothing from anywhere. What could possibly have been going through these guys minds?

    Suppose this guy was just a "Sting" fan? Did this LEO never hear of "Police" the band?? I hope this kid sues them for the shirt off their back.

    Regards
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    My favorite part is that he was wearing it under a sweater. He only revealed the t-shirt when he took the sweater off because he was hot. How much do you want to bet that he didn't even think about theshirt when he put it on?

    Somehow I doubt that impersonating an officer was his intent.

  9. #9
    Founder's Club Member Hawkflyer's Avatar
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    Well I would be the first to admit that St Louis and the surrounding area represent a different sort of world from the rest of the state, but this is over the top. All I can think is that these LEOs had nothing better to do. I can understand them coming to check this out if it was called in by a citizen, but to actually make an arrest on this sort of this is really out there.

    Regards
    "Research has shown that a 230 grain lead pellet placed just behind the ear at 850 FPS results in a permanent cure for violent criminal behavior."
    "If you are not getting Flak, you are not over the target"
    "186,000 Miles per second! ... Not just a good idea ... It's the law!"

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    Well the fella won't have to worry about his safety from running into burning buildings to save property and innocent lives any more, :celebrate

    He should've made the supposed officers produce some credentials, "( Any one can buy clothes to resemble a police officer)" RIGHT !! I'd drive that hard cold rolled poker all the way home!!and take my next few strolls right down the streets of theirfair city with someone in the background with the film rolling .

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    Campaign Veteran deepdiver's Avatar
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    Having spent some years in that area of Illinois and still having some ties to that community, let me just say that nothing in this story is in any way surprising.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    Good thing he wasn't wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt, someone might have thought the revolutionary leader had risen from the grave....

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    Regular Member Sonora Rebel's Avatar
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    This particular 'cop' should be fired. He should'a been fired already.

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    Do I sense a new motorcycle (or truck) being delivered to Missouri?

    Yata hey
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    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Another great reason to stay out of Illinois (as if I really need another reason)

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    So if I put on a standard police uniform with a badge and go about town would that also be "expressing my constitutional rights?" What if I put lights and a siren on my car?

    I'm sorry, but the public has a right to expect that persons identifying themselves as police actually are police officers. They wear uniforms for a reason.

    Personally I get tired of seeing these shirts. Since many departments also use similar shirts at certain times, I always wonder whether I'm looking at a real police officer or not. (Lack of equipment doesn't mean anything. He could be off duty.)

    What if there had been some kind of emergency in that restaurant and some one went running up to that guy for help, only to find "oh...uhhh...no I'm not really a cop...I just play one in public."

    While I don't agree with the way the cops handled this, this has nothing to do with open carry and seems to me a straightforward case of impersonating police.

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    So I guess that means that you would be against all of the people who have worn NYPD and NYFD hats and shirts after 9/11? After all, they can't all work for NYPD and NYFD.

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    Virginian683 wrote:
    So if I put on a standard police uniform with a badge and go about town would that also be "expressing my constitutional rights?" What if I put lights and a siren on my car?

    I'm sorry, but the public has a right to expect that persons identifying themselves as police actually are police officers. They wear uniforms for a reason.

    Personally I get tired of seeing these shirts. Since many departments also use similar shirts at certain times, I always wonder whether I'm looking at a real police officer or not. (Lack of equipment doesn't mean anything. He could be off duty.)

    What if there had been some kind of emergency in that restaurant and some one went running up to that guy for help, only to find "oh...uhhh...no I'm not really a cop...I just play one in public."

    While I don't agree with the way the cops handled this, this has nothing to do with open carry and seems to me a straightforward case of impersonating police.
    I think he was impersonating a Sting fan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Police

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    Virginian683 wrote:
    So if I put on a standard police uniform with a badge and go about town would that also be "expressing my constitutional rights?" What if I put lights and a siren on my car?

    I'm sorry, but the public has a right to expect that persons identifying themselves as police actually are police officers. They wear uniforms for a reason.

    Personally I get tired of seeing these shirts. Since many departments also use similar shirts at certain times, I always wonder whether I'm looking at a real police officer or not. (Lack of equipment doesn't mean anything. He could be off duty.)

    What if there had been some kind of emergency in that restaurant and some one went running up to that guy for help, only to find "oh...uhhh...no I'm not really a cop...I just play one in public."

    While I don't agree with the way the cops handled this, this has nothing to do with open carry and seems to me a straightforward case of impersonating police.
    The man did not have on a police uniform. It was merely a T-shirt with the word POLICE on the front and back. According to your thinking if a person was to wear a cap or a T-shirt with the words John Deere on them that person would be trying to impersonate a tractor. If you were to wear a T-shirt with the word Ruger on the front and back would you be impersonating a Ruger firearm? If he would have had the word queer on his shirt would that made him a homosexual? See how silly your line of thinking is?
    There was no impersonation of police involved here at all.

  20. #20
    Lone Star Veteran Ian's Avatar
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    Virginian683 wrote:
    So if I put on a standard police uniform with a badge and go about town would that also be "expressing my constitutional rights?" What if I put lights and a siren on my car?

    I'm sorry, but the public has a right to expect that persons identifying themselves as police actually are police officers. They wear uniforms for a reason.

    Personally I get tired of seeing these shirts. Since many departments also use similar shirts at certain times, I always wonder whether I'm looking at a real police officer or not. (Lack of equipment doesn't mean anything. He could be off duty.)

    What if there had been some kind of emergency in that restaurant and some one went running up to that guy for help, only to find "oh...uhhh...no I'm not really a cop...I just play one in public."

    While I don't agree with the way the cops handled this, this has nothing to do with open carry and seems to me a straightforward case of impersonating police.
    How is this a straightforward case of impersonating?

    You do realize that you have to do more than just wear a police shirt to be guilty of impersonating don't you?

  21. #21
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    A T-shirt is not a uniform. Just ask any First Sgt. (Do NOT ask how I know this...)



    Virginian683 wrote:
    So if I put on a standard police uniform with a badge and go about town would that also be "expressing my constitutional rights?" What if I put lights and a siren on my car?

    I'm sorry, but the public has a right to expect that persons identifying themselves as police actually are police officers. They wear uniforms for a reason.

    Personally I get tired of seeing these shirts. Since many departments also use similar shirts at certain times, I always wonder whether I'm looking at a real police officer or not. (Lack of equipment doesn't mean anything. He could be off duty.)

    What if there had been some kind of emergency in that restaurant and some one went running up to that guy for help, only to find "oh...uhhh...no I'm not really a cop...I just play one in public."

    While I don't agree with the way the cops handled this, this has nothing to do with open carry and seems to me a straightforward case of impersonating police.

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  23. #23
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    I didn't say it was a uniform. But it is the same as putting on a uniform. He is explicitly identifying himself as a member of the police, which he is not.


    PavePusher wrote:
    A T-shirt is not a uniform. Just ask any First Sgt. (Do NOT ask how I know this...)



    Virginian683 wrote:
    So if I put on a standard police uniform with a badge and go about town would that also be "expressing my constitutional rights?" What if I put lights and a siren on my car?

    I'm sorry, but the public has a right to expect that persons identifying themselves as police actually are police officers. They wear uniforms for a reason.

    Personally I get tired of seeing these shirts. Since many departments also use similar shirts at certain times, I always wonder whether I'm looking at a real police officer or not. (Lack of equipment doesn't mean anything. He could be off duty.)

    What if there had been some kind of emergency in that restaurant and some one went running up to that guy for help, only to find "oh...uhhh...no I'm not really a cop...I just play one in public."

    While I don't agree with the way the cops handled this, this has nothing to do with open carry and seems to me a straightforward case of impersonating police.

  24. #24
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    Carnivore wrote:
    Found a bit of an update..
    Excellent. It sounds like he got a good lawyer.

  25. #25
    Campaign Veteran deepdiver's Avatar
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    Reading the update, I am again struck with a "I can see that happening" reaction based on my observations and experiences in that area.

    I am still wondering how the cops got involved in the first place. The whole thing about the cops showing up and asking someone else to ask Weinstein to come talk to them seems somewhat odd. I'm familiar with the bar and well, except for the abusive Belleville LEO it just seems odd.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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