By Victor Menotti
At a time when most Americans agree that the country has too...
Denise Grier is a nurse at Emory University hospital in Georgia.
On March 10, she was driving home from dinner when a Dekalb County police officer pulled her over.
“At least initially, I was just surprised because I hadn’t done anything wrong,” she says.
“When he approached the car, he had his hand on his weapon, and I was in my nurse’s uniform with a stethoscope around my neck. He asked for my license, and then said, ‘Any idea why I stopped you.’
“I said no.
“ ‘You have a lewd decal on your car.’ ”
Grier says she immediately thought that one of her kids had put something nasty on her bumper as a joke.
“But then he mentioned the Bush sticker,” she says. That one says: “I’m tired of all the BUSHIT.” (This story was first reported by Joe Johnson of the Athens Banner-Herald.)
Grier says she told the officer it wasn’t lewd, and that it was clearly a political statement. When he insisted it was lewd, she said, “I’m not going to discuss this any further. Just give me the ticket.” Which he did.
Under “offense,” it says: “Lewd decals.”
The ticket is for $100.
Grier has no intention of paying it.
“I am so appalled at the officer’s attempt to squash my freedom of speech,” she told the Banner-Herald.
Elaborating to The Progressive, Grier says people are wrong to view this in a partisan way.
“It’s not just a Democrat/Republican issue,” she says. “Y’all need to get beyond that. It’s my right to speak, and yours.”
Gerry Weber, the legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, is representing Grier. “The indicators are that the officer didn’t like her views of President Bush and that was the motivating factor,” he says.
Weber says the ticketing was clearly illegal.
He says the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the “lewd bumpersticker” statute way back in 1991, in a case involving a defendant who had a “Shit Happens” bumpersticker.
This shouldn’t keep happening 15 years later, he says.
After the criminal case is over, Weber says he and Grier may file a civil rights claim.
The Dekalb County Police Department would not discuss the facts of the case.
“We don’t comment on other officers’ tickets,” says Officer Herschel Grangent, who handles media affairs. “That officer is making his decision on the street. And it’s going through legal channels now.”
By the way, this is not the first time someone in Grier’s family has gotten into trouble over a bumpersticker.
Last year, she says her 20-year-old son was pulled over in Athens, Georgia, for having a bumpersticker that said, “Bush sucks. Dick Cheney too.”
She says the police officer told her son, “If you do not remove the bumpersticker, I’m taking you to jail.”
So he removed it.
“He thought it was kind of funny,” she says, though she told him she would rather go to jail than take her bumpersticker off.
Grier has a court date of April 18.
Denise Grier won’t have to pay $100 for her bumpersticker after all.
Grier was pulled over on March 10 by a DeKalb County cop for having the sticker “I’m Tired of All the BUSHIT” on her car. He gave her a ticket for a “lewd decal,” and the price was $100.
She contested it.
On April 4, Judge R. Joy Walker dismissed it, as Joe Johnson reported for the Athens Banner-Herald.
“The ticket should not have been written,” ruled Judge Walker, noting that the Georgia state supreme court had invalidated the “lewd decal” law fifteen years ago.
Grier was not surprised with the outcome.
“I knew it was going to happen,” she tells The Progressive. “It was pretty much a no-brainer. I just didn’t think it would take this long.”
Grier remains dubious of the police officer’s motives for giving her that ticket.
“I’m still of the belief that the police officer pulled me over because of my political beliefs,” she says. “That bumpersticker, in the world of bumperstickers, was very mild, very tame.”
Calling the ticket an “abuse of power,” Grier says she’s contemplating a civil suit.