Thursday, August 27, 2009
The teenager at the center of the Obama Joker poster controversy in Clermont Florida will not face felony charges, according to the Lake County State Attorney’s Office, despite an attempt on behalf of the local media to whip up contrived outrage over what they characterized as an egregious crime against residents of the area.
“We didn’t put politics into it,” Chief Assistant State Attorney Ridgway told the Orlando Sentinel. “We looked at it as a public safety issue.”
Ridgway pointed out that there were far more serious “crimes” taking place that demanded resources over and above a kid putting up flyers on telephone poles.
This will no doubt disappoint media outlets like WFTV (Channel 9 Orlando News), who concocted a contrived hoax based around the supposition that residents were outraged and disgusted by the posters, even going so far as to claim that “victims” of some dastardly crime had been created and implying that the teenager should be jailed for five years. In reality, a poll showed that a majority of residents agreed that the people posting the flyers had a first amendment right to do so.
In addition, the teenager at the center of the storm contacted us to point out that police were largely disinterested in the heinous “crime” of posting flyers until Florida media outlets started whipping up fake hysteria around the issue.
Indeed, on numerous occasions police physically watched him post the flyers and took no action.
“Surprisingly, the police were never really an obstacle when I was putting up flyers,” wrote the teenager. “During the posting at least 10 police officers watched me do it and did nothing. A few police officers even approached me and asked me what I was doing, then left me alone without any hassle.”
“I believe the police only got involved because WFTV (Channel 9 Orlando News) stirred up the story so much and put pressure on them,” he added.
Despite escaping felony charges, the teenager “could be cited by the city with violating a municipal code that says it is “unlawful for any person to nail, tack, paste, paint or otherwise attach any poster, bill or other advertising material” to trees, poles and public fixtures.”
Police didn’t seem to be too bothered about enforcing this ordinance while they were watching the teenager post the flyers, and when they later interviewed him they admitted to a policy of ‘looking the other way’ when people post “lost pet” flyers and similar signs on telephone polls – so if the kid is cited under this ordinance then it proves the issue is entirely political, at which point the teenager would have a strong case of official oppression and violation of his first amendment rights.