It’s not illegal to give police officers the finger as you drive by them, and they have no right to arrest you for it, according to a recent appeals court ruling.The case stems from the 2006 arrest of John Swartz, who says he was put in handcuffs after he gave the middle finger to an officer using a radar gun an intersection in St. Johnsville, N.Y., The Huffington Post reported Friday.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled Thursday that the “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.”
While the disorderly conduct charge filed against Swartz was ultimately dropped, he still sued the officers for his arrest.
A federal judge ruled in favour of the officers in 2011 but the appeals court erased that decision Thursday and remanded the case back to the lower court.
The officer who stopped Swartz in 2006 said he thought the man was using his middle to finger to get his attention. But the appeals court didn’t buy it, saying the “nearly universal recognition that this gesture is an insult deprives such an interpretation of reasonableness.”
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