Wicked Local reports:
A Jamaica Plain man who was approached by police because he reportedly was falling asleep on a bench, cursed at the officers, and was arrested.
John Leamay, 54, was sleeping on a Harvard Street bench on Saturday, Sept. 21, when he was approached by police. According to the report, the officers stopped to check on Leamay’s wellbeing, but he became increasingly agitated. They asked him for identification and his date of birth. He refused to state his date of birth and began yelling “incoherent” statements, according to the report.
Leamay said, “I spent all day at the hospital,” and “This is going to end up on Facebook,” according to the report.
After he was let go, Leamay allegedly walked down Harvard Street and yelled, “F—— cops, this is bulls—.”
The officers approached him for a second time and Leamay allegedly gave them the middle finger and stated, “Do you guys get a hard on for this s— or something?”
As he attempted to walk away, the officers got a hold of him and attempted to arrest him for disorderly conduct. Leamay allegedly spit on the officers and kicked both of them.
He was placed under arrest and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and two counts of assault and battery on a police officer.
This seems like a pretty clear case of police misconduct. Police cannot arrest someone for swearing. This is a basic freedom of speech issue. Having someone swear at you may be unpleasant, but it’s not something you can arrest someone over.
I will outright state that police who arrest people for swearing are pathetic. Police are supposed to be highly skilled, trained professionals. They should not be resorting to violence over something that retail workers, bank tellers, and anyone else with a customer service-related job have to put up with.
On the other hand, as a purely practical matter, I wouldn’t really recommend swearing at the police. It isn’t likely to do you much good.
I also wouldn’t recommend fighting back against police if they falsely arrest you like this man was accused of doing. I do believe that people have the right to resist unlawful arrests, but it’s considered illegal to resist even unlawful arrests in most states.