“Cops keep firing in my environment / middle finger to the law.” These immortal words from New York rapper Nas were most likely running through Robert Bell’s head on August 6, 2011, except there were no guns involved and Nas was nowhere to be seen. Mr. Bell left the Slaughtered Lamb Pub in Greenwich Village, NY and decided to give three policemen a little piece of his mind. He flipped them the bird and seconds later was arrested for disorderly conduct, obscene gesture, public alarm, and annoyance. His stated reason for throwing the universal gesture was not only to insult the three personally, but also because he just does not like cops in general. Robert Bell has filed a lawsuit against the city for violating his constitutional rights on what he believes is protected speech. On top of that, he is suing for assault, false arrest, and, my favorite, emotional distress.
A similar lawsuit occurred in Pittsburgh in 2009, where a man was arrested for flipping off a policeman, sued claiming first amendment rights, and won. The Judge in that case declared that the obscene gesture is protected under the first amendment and the man should have the right to express his anger and aggression. Although it clearly states in New York Law that obscene gestures and abusive language count as disorderly conduct, a fine worthy of $240, it looks like Mr. Bell could possibly have a case. There he goes: the leader, the trend setter, the defender of the common people, the one not afraid to show the authority who’s boss. Maybe if I was under the age of 17 and not deathly afraid of getting arrested I would throw up the middle finger to the law, but for now I’ll let Mr. Bell pave the way for justice and freedom.