“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 Pittsburgh mother who was banned from her daughter’s high school basketball games has won a $63,500 settlement with her school district in a discrimination dispute. Diane Wickstrom claimed that she was banned from the school’s basketball games and practices for no just cause after she sent an email concerning her daughter’s team. After the email, the Peters Township Athletic Association imposed a new rule closing practices to the public, which Wickstrom claimed was enforced exclusively on her. Lawyers for the basketball mom argued that the banning was an infringement on her First Amendment rights, with the ban occurring under “false premises”. As part of the settlement, the township’s insurer will pay Wickstrom $55,000 and the school district $8,500, and Wickstrom, of course, has been readmitted to her daughter’s basketball games.