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Seattle Police to Pay Protesters $680,000 Over First Amendment Violation



Seattle Police owe four protesters $680,000 after a federal jury decided Friday evening that the cops violated their First Amendment rights.

The incident occured on New Year’s Day 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four protesters had written “F**k the Police” and “peaceful protests” in chalk and charcoal on portable barriers near a police precinct, according to the Seattle Times.

At the time, however, Seattle and King County had put a moratorium on all misdemeanor bookings due to the COVID pandemic. Despite this, the four protesters, Derek Tucson, Robin Snyder, Monsieree de Castro and Erik Moy-Delgado, were booked and spent a night in jail, the Times reported.

READ MORE: Seattle Police Didn’t Provide Access to Lawyers 96% of the Time: Report

The officers said that the booking ban had a exception where the “assistant chief or higher” could override the ban, according to the lawsuit. The suit says that the override was used “based upon political participation and viewpoint.”

The plaintiffs also alleged that the anti-graffiti ordinance they were charged under was unconstitutional. Though the court initially agreed with the plaintiffs, that ruling was reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, according to KING-TV.

While the plaintiffs lost that fight, the jury found that the arrest and booking had indeed violated their First Amendment rights, as it was directly linked to the content of the speech.

Plaintiffs cited a tweet in the suit by the official Seattle Police account that read, “So, we can’t provide legal advice, but we can say the use of sidewalk chalk doesn’t constitute graffiti.” The suit also features photographs of pro-police statements written in chalk that the police were fine with.

Four officers were identified in court pleadings as Alexander Patton, Dylan Nelson, Ryan Kannard and Michele Letizia. The plaintiffs’ attorneys’ investigation into the officers discovered that the precinct breakroom had both a Trump flag and a fake tombstone mocking the death of a 19-year-old man killed by police, the Times reported.

“Based on the evidence presented at trial, the jury found the defendants arrested and booked the plaintiffs because of the content or viewpoint of their speech,” attorney Braden Pence said in a prepared statement.

Each of the four protesters will be paid $20,000 in compensatory damages by the city of Seattle, and $60,000 in punitive damages by the individual officers, according to the Times.


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8 Coaches Forced a High School Football Player to Violate His Faith and Eat Pork as Teammates Watched



McKinley Senior High School head football coach Marcus Wattley and seven asst. coaches in Canton, Ohio are on paid leave after forcing a 17-year old player, a Hebrew Israelite, to violate his faith and eat pork as punishment for missing practice after he sustained an injury, The Washington Post reports.

The student, who is not being named, was forced to sit in the middle of a gymnasium and eat a pepperoni pizza with his fellow players egging him on. Not only would his position on the team be jeopardized if he refused, but his fellow players would also be subjected to punishment because of his actions.

“Ed Gilbert, the family’s attorney, said at a news conference Tuesday that the Canton City School District violated the child’s First Amendment rights,” The Post notes, when the coaches “compelled the boy to eat pork on May 24 despite his numerous objections because of his faith. Gilbert said the family plans to sue the school district.”

The 17-year old “was verbally assaulted by the coaches and faced pressure from his peers to eat the pizza despite his religious beliefs.”

The student had skipped practice May 20 after injuring his shoulder one day prior, but on the 24th showed up for a voluntary strength and conditioning session. That’s when his First Amendment rights were allegedly violated.

“Because he is a Hebrew Israelite, the player allegedly told the coaches at least 10 times that he was forbidden to eat pork or pork residue, according to Gilbert. The coaches allowed the athlete to remove some of the pepperoni from the pizza, but the pork residue was still on the slices, the attorney said at Tuesday’s news conference.”

Despite giving in to the coaches’ demands, his fellow players yelled at him as he ate the pizza.




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Georgia School Backs Down on Suspending Hero Student Who Exposed Crowded Hallways During Pandemic



A Georgia teen had her school suspension lifted for posting photos of crowded hallways after returning to classes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hannah Watters shared photos from inside North Paulding High School showing students crowded together, with few wearing face coverings, and school officials relented on punishing her after the image and the girl’s suspension went viral, reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“I spoke to the principal a short time ago and he has rescinded the suspension and she will have no discipline on her record,” said her mother Lynne Watters.

The 15-year-old said the school notified her that she’d violated school policies against using her phone during instruction time and being active on social media during school hours, but she claimed the posting was made after hours — and insisted she had no regrets.

“I’d like to say this is some good and necessary trouble,” Watters said. “My biggest concern is not only about me being safe, it’s about everyone being safe because behind every teacher, student and staff member there is a family, there are friends, and I would just want to keep everyone safe.”

The school backed down on the suspension after nationwide outcry over the disciplinary action.


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