"Bushit" Bumpersticker Owner Files Lawsuit
October 17, 2006
Denise Grier, the Georgia nurse who was cited for having a bumpersticker that read “I’m tired of all the Bushit,” has filed suit.
She is suing DeKalb County, the chief of the county police department, and the officer who pulled her over on March 10 and issued her a $100 ticket for having a “lewd decal.” (See “McCarthyism Watch,” http://progressive.org/mag_mc032706.)
“He pulled me over for his own political agenda, and grossly abused his authority in violating my free speech.”
Three weeks later, the ticket was dismissed because the “lewd decal” statute had been ruled unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1991.
Grier alleges that she was deprived of her First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
“It was outrageous,” Grier said in a statement. “He pulled me over for his own political agenda, and grossly abused his authority in violating my free speech.”
“I decided to sue because unfortunately in the United States it’s the only way you can get something done,” she tells me. “Until you do something punitive, nothing changes.”
She is seeking damages for emotional distress, as well as punitive damages. She also wants the court to declare that her bumpersticker “is protected by the United States and Georgia Constitutions.”
Grier, by the way, had other political bumperstickers on her vehicle, including “Duck Fubya.”
“This type of political satire directed at the political elites has been a hallmark of our country since the founding of the Republic,” says Grier’s lawyer, Frank Derrickson, who is representing her on behalf of the Georgia ACLU.
The arresting police officer could not be reached for his response.
“The police department is not commenting,” says Jason Gagnon, public information officer.
Neither is the county.
“Because it’s pending litigation, the county is not able to comment,” says Kristie Swink, public information officer for DeKalb County.
“As long as people have been trying to poke fun at the powers that be, the powers that be have been trying to keep them from doing that,” says Derrickson. “This is just the latest example of that.”
Grier says she has received a lot of harassment—including a death threat—since the bumpersticker story first broke back in March.
The threat came over the phone, she says. “It was a man,” she recalls. “He said something to the effect of, ‘People who think the way that you do don’t deserve to live. If I had the ability to do so, I would end your life.’ ”
Grier says she hung up the phone and turned toward her boyfriend and said, “I think someone just threatened to kill me.”
She says she also got a couple of other calls from people “saying they were going to come over and kick my ass.”
When she decided to sue, Grier also decided to drop her land phone. “ I just didn’t want to be accessible to the crazies,” she says. “I didn’t want to have to worry about that.”