If you live in the Denver metro area, you may have seen Eric Brandt, who often rides a bicycle while displaying a giant hand, complete with extended middle finger, that's emblazoned with the phrase "FUCK COPS."
Brandt claims he's been mistreated by police officers on numerous occasions, but now Denver attorney David Lane feels he has the upper-hand, as it were, after he was arrested at a Westminster City Council meeting for doing nothing more than speaking as scheduled during a public-comments segment. Continue for more photos, plus a video, audio from the meeting and the lawsuit Lane's filed on Brandt's behalf.
Brandt has delivered jeremiads about what he sees as police abuse on a number of venues, including Facebook, YouTube (a video he uploaded is below), the website Copblock.org and even Craigslist via a post shared within the past week to publicize an appearance near 92nd and Sheridan. The Craigslist item reads:
I have now been arrested TWELVE (12) TIMES for my middle finger protest against corrupt and abusive police brutality.
I was arrested TWICE yesterday alone.
I WILL NOT BE SILENCED!
Please come by and do a shout / honk out for me today. I refuse to be let them kick me down!
Eric Brandt is an eight-year disabled Nuclear Submarine Veteran who fought for a system he believes in -- a FREE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE. Eric has chosen to stand up to police abuse in continuation of his oath to Defend The Constitution Against All Enemies -- Foreign AND DOMESTIC. Freedom isn't free.
Obviously, Brandt isn't averse to strong language. But during the public-comments section of the August 11 Westminster City Council meeting, which was captured on audio, he speaks calmly and thoughtfully about his reasons for coming before officials -- at first, anyhow. But soon into the address, Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison interrupts to say Brandt can't continue speaking due to a pending lawsuit against the city.
According to Lane, Brandt hadn't filed suit against Westminster at that point. Rather, he'd submitted a complaint that Lane says shouldn't have precluded council from hearing what he had to say.
When Brandt tries to continue, Atchison insists that he can't do so and will be forcibly removed if he tries. In response, Brandt begins speaking louder and becomes upset when someone lays hands on him. He can be heard complaining passionately as he's led away.
Continue for more about Eric Brandt's lawsuit against the City of Westminster, including audio, video and a document. Here's audio of this exchange and its aftermath....
...and here's a photo said to show Brandt being arrested:
The suit reveals that Brandt was placed in handcuffs and taken to jail in Westminster, then transferred to a detention center in Adams County on charges of obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest. However, all charges against him were dismissed on August 21. During his career as a free-speech advocate, Lane has defended plenty of people who got into trouble for using language considered obscene. But despite his "FUCK COPS" reputation, Brandt resisted the urge to get profane at the meeting.
"This was absolutely appropriate speech with no F-bombs," Lane points out. "And as political speech, it's the highest protected speech that exists. Speech doesn't get any more protected than that."
As such, Lane contends that Atchison's real objection didn't have to do with a then-nonexistent lawsuit, but because "Brandt was talking about police misconduct in Westminster. And it was an open mic. People can talk about any issue of concern to them or the public they want to. So the mayor was censoring a message he didn't want to hear on a matter of public concern at a political meeting. It was a classic example of addressing your government for redress of grievance under the First Amendment. And the mayor had him arrested for his trouble."
Lane says he reached out to the city before filing the complaint and never received a reply. As a result, he goes on, "the mayor will be taking a little trip to federal district court and the taxpayers of Westminster will be footing the bill."
He adds that, in his view, the violation of Brandt's free-speech rights under the U.S. Constitution is so obvious "that a high school civics student could probably win this case."
Look below to see the aforementioned video Brandt posted to YouTube, followed by the complete lawsuit.
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Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.