GAINESVILLE ACTIVIST WINS SUIT - Mitch Perry

01/26/05

The ACLU today announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed on behalf of longtime political activist Charles “Chas� Chiodo, of Gainesville who was arrested on obscenity charges for carrying an anti-war sign during a protest near a busy street corner in downtown Gainesville last May.

The Gainesville City Commission agreed to pay $16, 600 to Chiodo for damages and attorney fees.

Becky Steele is the Director of the ACLU’s West Central Office in Florida…She explains what Mr. Chiodo was doing when he was arrested (roll tape#1 o.q.�rear end�)

At that juncture, a police sergeant approached Chiodo and demanded that he put the sign away because it was “offensive� and he saw children glancing at the sign as they passed the demonstration. When Chiodo refused to put down the sign, which includes the phrases “Bush Loyalists� and “Question Authority,� he was arrested and charged with “exposing minors to obscene material.� He was then taken to the county jail and labeled a sex offender. Chiodo was released the following day and the charges were eventually dropped.

The ACLU of Florida then filed a civil lawsuit against the police department and the officer who arrested Chiodo for violating his First Amendment rights.

In addition to settling the lawsuit, the City of Gainesville has created a formal policy on handling arrests for allegedly obscene material …The ACLU’s Becky Steele explains (roll tape#2 o.q.�move on from there�)

To learn more about this case, you can go to the web at aclufl.org

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