ACLU Secures Victory For Freedom Of Speech

Affiliate: ACLU of Louisiana
June 18, 2009 12:00 am

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ACLU of Louisiana
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Today Johnny Duncan and the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana entered a settlement with the City of Amite, which detained and ticketed Mr. Duncan because there was a sign on his car reading “You Might be a Nigger!.” Mr. Duncan, aka “Johnny UnBlackWorthy,” an African-American veteran and a resident of Amite, is the author of a book of political and social commentary entitled “You Might be a Nigger!” The sign on his car was to advertise the book.

Mr. Duncan was detained outside of an Amite restaurant, where the police wrongly told him that the sign on his car was “obscene.” When he refused to remove the sign from his car, the officers followed him, detained him by the side of the road for an hour, and issued a ticket under Louisiana’s obscenity law. Ultimately the criminal charges under the ticket were dismissed, because nothing on the sign qualifies under the definition of “obscene.”

The City of Amite has agreed to pay damages to Mr. Duncan as well as to reimburse the ACLU of Louisiana for attorneys’ fees incurred in representing him.

“Free speech in this country means that the police are not allowed to arrest or detain someone simply because they do not like what the person says,” said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director. “Johnny Duncan, like anyone else, has the right to advertise a book in words that, whether or not they may offend, are not illegal or obscene. We’re glad that the City of Amite now recognizes this right.”

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