ACLU Applauds Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe on Dropping Charges Against Equality Florida's Leader

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
May 16, 2007 12:00 am

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Nadine Smith Thanks ACLU Defenders in Largo Police Dispute

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida’s Pinellas Chapter successfully represented Equality Florida leader Nadine Smith in defending against criminal charges brought against her. ACLU cooperating attorney Bruce Howie represented Smith and applauded Bernie McCabe, Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney, for dropping all charges.

Smith was arrested for handing a “Don’t Discriminate” flyer to a supporter at a recent Largo City Council hearing held to decide whether to terminate Largo’s City Manager after the manager’s transgender status became public. Howie noted that the original arrest violated Smith’s First Amendment right of free speech.

“I am thankful to the ACLU for providing legal counsel and to the many witnesses who stepped forward to describe the violent actions of the Largo police and refute their fabricated justification for the arrest,” said Smith. Howie added that thanks are also due to lawyers Karen Doering and Shelbi Day of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who were instrumental in helping the ACLU with its defense of Smith.

“This arrest should never have happened, said Rob Rosenwald, Director of the ACLU’s LGBT Advocacy Project. “It’s bad enough to have to fight discrimination without the double whammy of a possible criminal prosecution for having the courage to speak up.

“We are proud to join Equality Florida and the National Center for Lesbian Rights in advocating for the right to be judged on the basis of individual merit, not gender identity. We’re glad the State Attorney did the right thing and dismissed the charges,” Rosenwald added.

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