A Kansan says he is grateful he’ll be allowed to continue flying his “F--- Biden” flag after his town dropped all related charges against him.
David Sain, of Blue Rapids, was charged with “promoting obscenity” after he was cited on Aug. 3 “for flying a political flag,” according to a news release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.
The city dropped all charges on Tuesday, Dec. 7, the ACLU of Kansas says.
John McNish, prosecutor for Blue Rapids, was not available for comment when contacted by McClatchy News.
The ACLU of Kansas, working to defend constitutional rights, says it had sent a letter to the town’s prosecutor noting “prosecution was unconstitutional, and should be dismissed.”
“The prosecutor responded by doubling down,” according to the news release. “Once the ACLU of Kansas got involved, the City announced it would amend the complaint to add an additional claim of public nuisance. Both charges were related to Mr. Sain’s exercise of his free speech rights, although the additional claim also attempted to point blame at other conditions on Mr. Sain’s property.”
Sharon Brett, legal director of the ACLU of Kansas, says the city never should have charged Sain.
“This was a clear violation of the First Amendment,” she said in the news release. “Each of us, Mr. Sain included, enjoys a constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech.”
The nonprofit civil liberties organization defended Sain with pro bono assistance from local defense attorney Sam Allison-Natale.
The ACLU of Kansas says Blue Rapids amended the original complaint, dropping the obscenity charge, in October but was still pursing a nuisance charge. The organization says it filed a motion against the city, arguing the prosecution was “retaliatory.”
“Criminalizing the political expression inherent in Mr. Sain’s flag strikes at the core of the First Amendment,” said Josh Pierson, ACLU of Kansas senior staff attorney. “Mr. Sain would not have been prosecuted at all had it not been for him engaging in protected First Amendment conduct. Not only is the prosecution unconstitutional, but it also sends a chilling message to all others who would express a political opinion with words some may find offensive.”
The First Amendment prohibits laws that limit freedoms connected to religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition the government.
“I’m grateful that I can continue to express myself with my flag without the fear of prosecution,” Sain said in the news release.
Similarly, in August, the New Jersey Superior Court dropped charges after a woman was prosecuted for displaying “profanity-laced” anti-Biden signs, according to The Free Speech Project.
Blue Rapids is in northeast Kansas, about 160 miles northwest of Kansas City.