Police were told that Ryan approached people in the park and said inappropriate things to women. They felt that he was trying to bait their male companions. He then decided to lecture on family planning to the kids in the playground on Sunday afternoon.
The police officer witnessing the conduct reported “I watched (Ryan) walk over to the busy playground area and climb to the top of one of the children’s toys that was being occupied by children between the ages of 4 and 6. He then started shouting from the top telling the children that babies come out of women” — and used a vulgar term in doing so. At that time parents were rushing to the area to remove their children.”
The charge was disorderly conduct. There is no law against speaking in public so presumably this charge is based on the content of his speech. Most of us are appalled by his conduct and grateful for his arrest. However, what is the standard in such cases?
The Florida law contains language that is highly ambiguous and could raise constitutional issues:
877.03 Breach of the peace; disorderly conduct.—Whoever commits such acts as are of a nature to corrupt the public morals, or outrage the sense of public decency, or affect the peace and quiet of persons who may witness them, or engages in brawling or fighting, or engages in such conduct as to constitute a breach of the peace or disorderly conduct, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
What is the meaning of “acts . . . of a nature to corrupt the public morals or outrage the sense of public decency”? If the key is the presence of children, the standard could apply in a variety of public areas.
Ryan has a history of disturbances including prior charges of disorderly conduct, battery and carrying a concealed weapon.
The actions in the playground may indeed make this an easier case, but I am still unclear on how this line is drawn on the meaning of these highly subjective terms.
Ryan was found guilty and fined $118. Thankfully, he was also ordered to stay away from the park.