Three Cheers for Pittsburgh City Council’s respect for the 1st Amendment


This story is an example of government truly protecting the Constitution in the face of abuse of power on the part of law enforcement.  A citizen  was simply told he couldn’t “flip” someone off and was ticketed when he did.  Fortunately he didn’t let it stop there and instead chose to exert his rights and in the process was supported by the city council where he lived.  Here’s his story.

A man who flipped the bird to a Pittsburgh police officer three years ago is speaking out after the City Council tentatively approved paying $50,000 to settle his lawsuit.In April 2006, David Hackbart was trying to park on a busy street in Squirrel Hill when, he said, the driver behind him wouldn’t budge.”After inching back toward him to give him the message I was trying to park, he wouldn’t (move). I got very frustrated and I flipped him off,” Hackbart said.

Hackbart, 35, of Butler, wasn’t done using his middle finger.”I heard a voice outside the car telling me not to do that and that frustrated me too. So, I flipped that person off and that turned out to be a police officer,” Hackbart said. “I tried to explain to him it was constitutionally protected, what I did. He did not want to hear it and gave me a citation.”The incident launched a federal civil rights case, which was postponed indefinitely at the request of lawyers on both sides. The case has tentatively ended with the City Council’s approval Tuesday of a proposed $50,000 settlement. Another vote is scheduled next week for final approval.Hackbart said his lawsuit was about change — not money.”Put some sort of policy in place that the officers are trained better and there is some sort of supervision in officers writing tickets so people don’t have to go through what I went through,” Hackbart said.Hackbart said there’s lesson for all to learn from his obscene gesture.”I don’t advocate people using the middle finger for (any) reason, any situation, 24 hours a day, but if someone ran across a certain situation in mind, at least he knows his rights,” Hackbart said.Of the proposed $50,000 settlement, Hackbart said he would receive only $10,000. His lawyers and the American Civil Liberties Union would split the remaining $40,000.

To all responsible for protecting Hackbart’s first amendment rights, and a way of life we claim to want to preserve and which drove us to invade two countries a heartfelt thanks for your diligence.  You too are soldiers in our war on terror.