Driver Sues Police For Making Her Remove Bumper Sticker, Violating Her Constitutional Rights

It’s nothing new for drivers to poke fun at the police, but two Indianapolis police officers weren’t in a joking mood when they pulled over a driver with a bumper sticker reading “unmarked police car” taped in her back window and made her remove it. She’s now suing, claiming her First Amendment rights to free speech were violated.

The woman was driving her silver minivan to work one day when officers pulled her over inside a parking garage, and said she’d have to remove the sticker, reports the IndyStar.com.

“The officer asked her, ‘Is this your vehicle?’ and asked for her license and registration,” the woman’s lawyer, of the American Civil Liberties Union said. “And then he said, ‘With that bumper sticker, someone could think you’re impersonating a police officer.'”

The attorney said he also suggested someone who dislikes cops might try to shoot at her.

“It’s a joke — it’s ironic,” her attorney said of the bumper sticker. “It’s like you or I wearing a T-shirt that says, ‘Undercover cop.'”

She did what the cops told her, and was free to go after she did. She was nervous and intimidated, she says, so she didn’t try to argue. She says her coworkers later suggested she call the ACLU, which she did the next day.

The ACLU claims in the civil lawsuit that the two officers violated her constitutional right to free speech as well as Fourth Amendment rights “by their unreasonable detention and interrogation.”

She’s seeking unspecified damages and legal costs. The suit also asks for an injunction requiring “defendants to cease and desist from further suspicionless detention, interrogation, harassment, and intimidation related to the humorous content of bumper stickers.”

And also, about that sticker?

“[The plaintiff] has not put the bumper sticker back on her minivan but wishes to do so.”

The city of Indianapolis responded to the lawsuit, saying in a statement from corporation counsel, “We take every lawsuit against the city extremely seriously.”

No joke: Driver sues IMPD officers over her bumper sticker [IndyStar.com]

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  1. CzarChasm says:

    This one leaves me with mixed feelings. I don’t think people should have anything on a car that could cause people to misidentify them as police. Then again, I don’t want people harassed for Federal Boobie Inspector shirts either.

    Oh, and I’m pretty sure that was an incorrect use of “ironic”. I fail to see the irony.

    • ReverendTed57 says:

      Since the whole point of an “Unmarked Police Car” is that it is not easily identifiable as such, I’d say it’s an ironic bumper sticker.

      I think this one is probably a case for the “Reasonable Person Test”. If someone has a tee shirt that says “Federal Boobie Inspector”, I’m pretty sure any reasonable person will identify that as a joke.
      “Unmarked Police Car” starts to tiptoe the line, I think.