Political activist Amy Elizabeth Barnes was awarded $100,000 this week in a settlement with Cobb County, Ga. following her 2012 arrest by police for shouting expletives that cops claimed would "incite an immediate breach of the peace."
Barnes was arrested by police Easter Sunday 2012. She reportedly rode her bike past two police officers questioning a black suspect outside a convenience store. She shouted, "Cobb police suck" and "fuck the police," gave them the bird, and rode off. Police followed and arrested her.
"Ms. Barnes' comments to the police may have been offensive, but no one in the United States of America should be chased down and arrested for their free speech," Barnes' lawyer Cynthia Counts, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The officers argued that it was a bad neighborhood and you shouldn't disrespect the police because it could create issues."
The activist was acquitted in a criminal trial against Cobb County last year, with the judge pointing out that Barnes never confronted the officers.
"The evidence at trial showed that the Defendant was not engaged in a face-to-face confrontation with the officers which tended to incite an immediate breach of the peace when the words were spoken," Judge Melodie Clayton wrote in her judgement of the criminal trial. "In addition, the word 'su*k,' used as an epithet, is now common enough in modern society that it cannot reasonably provoke a threat of violence. The defendant's other statement, '(expletive) the police,' was a fleeting epithet that was insulting and inappropriate, but it did not create an immediate threat and danger of violence."