Georgia County Ordered to Pay $100,000 to Woman Arrested and Jailed for Cursing at Cops

Amidst a culture of virtual impunity for abusive police officers, it's nice to know sometimes the system does actually work.

In Cobb County, Georgia, Amy Elizabeth Barnes was arrested on Easter Sunday 2012 when she rode her bicycle past two police officers questioning a black man outside of a convenience store. Her crime? Shouting, “Cobb police suck,” and, “Fuck the police,” while raising her middle fingers.

Impolitic, sure, but criminal? Judge Melodie Clayton sure didn't think so. She ruled this week that police had no grounds to arrest Barnes for incitement. “The evidence at trial showed that the Defendant was not engaged in a face-to-face confrontation with the officers which tended to incite an immediate breach of the peace when the words were spoken,” Judge Clayton wrote in her decision. “In addition, the word “su*k”, used as an epithet, is now common enough in modern society that it cannot reasonably provoke a threat of violence. The defendant’s other statement, '(expletive) the police,' was a fleeting epithet that was insulting and inappropriate, but it did not create an immediate threat and danger of violence.”

Barnes was awarded $100,000 in a settlement with the county, as a form of compensation for spending a day and night in jail (that includes six hours in solitary confinement).

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