The village, 100 miles northwest of New York City, refused to let him pay by mail after one of its clerks, who were all women, told a local judge his profane phrase, which referred to them as ‘b******,’ upset and alarmed them, according to court records.
Although a judge dismissed the harassment charge in 2013, ruling that Barboza’s comments are protected under the First Amendment, the New York Civil Liberties Union took up the case to ensure that Liberty lives up to its name. On his payment form, the then-22-year-old crossed out “Liberty” and replaced it with “Tyranny“. When Barboza came to Liberty, he was arrested by two police officers on orders of the district attorney on a charge of “aggravated harassment”, handcuffed and held for hours.
Seibel also ruled Liberty will have to stand trial for failing to train its police officers regarding the country’s First Amendment.
In a ruling from the bench, federal District Judge Cathy Seibel not only concluded that Liberty and the persons responsible for his arrest “violated plaintiff’s First Amendment rights when they arrested him”, she also ordered further proceedings to determine whether the place Barboza labeled a “shitty town” must compensate him for the arrest.
“It’s free speech and the courts have said that for decades”, Bergstein told The Post. “The First Amendment protects people’s rights to express their opinions about the government, and our government is better for it”.
“The people I trusted to uphold the law violated my most basic rights”, he said in a statement.
Barboza was quoted talking about the incident, saying he was treated as a criminal for a “few harmless words”.
The town of Liberty, N.Y., was not pleased with the liberty Willian Barboza took when sending back his payment. Lawyers for Liberty did not return a call.
NYCLUWhile driving through Liberty, New York, on May 4, 2012, Willian Barboza, a 21-year-old motorist from Connecticut, was pulled over for speeding. A year ago the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, overturned that provision on First Amendment grounds. “Expressions like the ones at issue here, though crude and offensive to some, did not convey an imminent threat and was made in the context of complaining about government activity”.
“The words here are not inherently likely to provoke violent reaction, they were not directed at anyone in particular, and could not be interpreted as threatening any particular action”, Seibel said.