An American man arrested for writing an obscene message on a police department’s Facebook page has received a $35,000 lawsuit payout, according to his lawyer.
Motherboard reported that in July 2012, Thomas Smith posted the message “F*** the f******* cops” on the Village of Arena in Wisconsin Police’s Facebook page.
The police’s post, announcing a series of arrests in the area was met with a torrent of explicit posts from Mr Smith, accusing the “cops” of being racists towards African Americans.
“F*** ths f******* cops they ant s*** but f******* racist basturds an f****** all of y’all who is racist,” Mr Smith wrote.
Mr Smith was arrested for “disorderly conduct and unlawful use of a computer and telephone,” according to Motherboard.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled Mr Smith’s First Amendment rights had been violated by the arrest.
Lawyers for Mr Smith successfully argued that it was wrong that comments praising the police were tolerated, but comments accusing them of racism were deleted.
Tom Aquino from Aquino Law wrote of his clients case: “We have always believed that the defendants’ liability was clear. Federal and state courts have routinely held that the right to free speech is not limited to polite speech alone.
“In our country, we are entitled to criticise our government with passion. The use of some four-letter words in the course of doing so is never a crime,” he said.
“We hope that the Arena Police Department, and other police departments across the state, have now learned this lesson.
“As for Mr. Smith, it has been more than three years since he was wrongfully arrested, and he is happy to finally have this entire episode behind him.”