There is an interesting case out of North Carolina where Justin Adams was fined $1,000 for littering. Adams is a KKK member who was distributing Klan literature on car windshield wipers. Complaints followed and police were called. Chief District Judge Mark Galloway imposed the fine, but there are serious questions raised about content-based discrimination of speech. Adams’ views are vile but it seems unlikely that others distributing literature would be subject to arrest. Indeed, Roxboro Police Chief David Hess seemed to confirm as much in his later comments.
The charge of littering seems a tad convenient given the obnoxious and disturbing character of his views. Police merely charged that some material ended up on the street and that was enough for a charge.
These suspicions were only deepened by the statements of Roxboro Police Chief David Hess:
“We do not support the message of the KKK. We have historically demonstrated that and will continue to take appropriate actions. I commend the citizen for calling 911. See Something Say Something is what allowed this arrest. I commend officers for taking appropriate actions. We support people exercising their constitutional rights. Littering is not a protected right and I commend our officers for taking appropriate action.”
He begins with celebrating the arrest of a Klansman and only belatedly adds that it was a littering charge.
Galloway did not help things. In this supposed littering case, Galloway referenced previous incidents of KKK violence despite his recognition that Adams had nothing to do with those incidents. He then added the entirely inappropriate comment: “Your client has made a choice, and I’m going to do what I can to let others know that’s not a good choice for them to make . . . The phrase I always heard was, we don’t need any – and you want to know what I’m getting ready to say? – out-of-town agitators.”
Perhaps but what we need most is free speech.
Adams should challenge this fine.