They Fought the Law and the Law LOST; SEMO CopBlock Wins First Amendment Lawsuit
The following post and video was shared with the CopBlock Network by Bryan Jeffers of SEMO Cop Block, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. The post discusses an incident they were involved in where city officials, including the mayor, chief of police, and county sheriff retaliated against them for flipping the mayor off, which is a First Amendment protected act of Free Speech. Among other things, they had their water meter removed by city workers, even though they were current on their bill.
Within the video, the fact that they were paid up to date on their water bill and that the removal was ordered as an act of retaliation is admitted. Ultimately, these acts of retaliation led to a lawsuit by jeffers and his mother Tina Warren, which was supported by the ACLU.
The post below details the resolution of that lawsuit and conditions under which it was resolved.
City/County Officials Involved:
- Piedmont Mayor: William “Bill” Kirkpatrick
- Piedmont Chief of Police: Richard Sanders
- Wayne County Sheriff: Dean Finch
- Lieutenant of Piedmont Police: Cory Tompson
Back in September of 2015, Wayne County residents Tina Warren and her son Bryan Jeffers, with help from the ACLU, filed a lawsuit accusing the City of Piedmont, the Chief of Police of Piedmont (Richard Sanders), a Police Lieutenant of Piedmont (Cory Tompson), the Mayor of Piedmont ( William “Bill” Kirkpatrick), and also the Sheriff of Wayne County (Dean Finch) of violations of the First Amendment.
In retaliation for their use of what is protected Free Speech, they have been harassed on multiple occasions. Miss Warren has been pulled over multiple times for “flipping the bird” to the city mayor. Also, Mr. Jeffers’ water meter was taken by workers employed by the local government in a further act of retaliation, even though they were current on their water bill. In addition, Mayor Kirkpatrick sent the sheriff to her home with the state DEA, to perform an unwarranted search for drugs. That search turned up nothing. You can read all about it here.
We are proud to announce that Tina Warren and Bryan Jeffers have come to a settlement with the City of Piedmont and all of the defendants involved. Miss Warren and Mr. Jeffers agreed to dismiss, with prejudice, the lawsuit against the City of Piedmont, MO as well as the named defendants after the defendants agreed to the following terms:
- The City of Piedmont, through its insurance company, agree to pay Miss Warren and Mr. Jeffers and their attorneys the sum of $9,500.00
- Defendant City of Piedmont agrees to issue the following apology:
“The administration of the City of Piedmont regrets their response to Tina Warren’s expressive activities. The city recognizes that residents have the first amendment rights and can not be subject to retaliation for exercising those rights. The city also acknowledges a citizen’s right to criticize public officials , even when some may find it offensive.”
- The city agrees to revisit and evaluate laws that outlaw cursing, offensive gestures, among others. Before this agreement the city went ahead and hired an outside company to review and rewrite any outdated laws.
- The city agrees to remove any remaining signs citing or relating to “no cursing”
- Each party agrees to pay their own attorney fee and cost.
- Mediation cost shall be divided equally between the defendants City of Piedmont and Sheriff Finch (taking money from an officer’s personnel pocket)
Standing up for your rights and seeing it to the end is something we like seeing. We encourage everyone to call the Piedmont City Council Members and tell them “We don’t want to flip the bill for Bill anymore.” We believe that if enough people call the council members they will go ahead and impeach the 1st Amendment hating mayor.
- Ward I Alderwoman: Karin Townsend – (573) 223-7579
- Ward I Alderman: Brian Tutterow – Phone # Unlisted
- Ward II Alderman: Tracey Bennett – (573) 223-1248
- Ward II Alderman: Scott Tucker – (573) 223-7533
Miss Warren said:
“Let this be a warning to all these small towns and cities out there that one “Bad Apple” can cost a city a lot of money and could wrap your city up in court, if you have laws that are unconstitutional”
We would like more people to stand up to local governments and get laws changed like Miss Warren and Mr Jeffers did with the help of the ACLU. If you believe your rights were violated, do not rest ’til you win your case.
– Bryan Jeffers
SEMO Cop Block