Friday, March 9, 2018

Man Arrested After Laughing During Trump Rally Sues St. Louis Police, President

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 9:26 AM

click to enlarge Rodney Brown was taken from Donald Trump's rally by St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers in March 2016. - VIA SCREENGRAB
  • VIA SCREENGRAB
  • Rodney Brown was taken from Donald Trump's rally by St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers in March 2016.

A community organizer who was arrested at Donald Trump's only St. Louis rally is suing the city, its police department and President Trump himself.

The rally, held at the Peabody Opera House in March 2016, featured numerous displays of protests, including a coordinated eruption by activists that stopped Trump from speaking for a full ten minutes.

But Rodney Brown says he wasn't part of that effort. In fact, he says his only response to Trump was to laugh — and yet he found himself targeted by both the candidate, who commanded "get him out of here" and the officers who complied with that order.



Following Brown's removal, the candidate mused from the podium that he was among "the people who are destroying our country," the suit alleges.

In a suit filed in federal court yesterday, the nonprofit MacArthur Justice Center says that the removal — and Brown's subsequent prosecution — were unlawful retaliation for Brown exercising his First Amendment rights. The suit also alleges unlawful seizure/false arrest, malicious prosecution and conspiracy to violate his civil rights.

Indeed, the city pursued a case against Brown, filing charges one month after the rally for "general peace disturbance."

According to the lawsuit,
The City pursued this charge against Rodney despite not having probable cause to do so. Upon information and belief, the City had a video at its disposal at the time it filed the charge against Rodney which showed that Rodney did not make any remarks calculated to provoke a breach of the peace. And the arresting officer, Defendant Boettigheimer, was not able to testify that Rodney Brown made any such remarks. 

The lack of probable cause did not matter because, upon information and belief, the City maintains a “no drop” prosecution policy against activists and protesters. That policy applies regardless of whether probable cause exists at the time of their arrest, the weight of the evidence against a defendant, or the constitutionally-protected nature of any alleged conduct on the day in question.
St. Louis Municipal Court Judge Newton McCoy acquitted Brown after a bench trial in September 2017, just days after the acquittal of a man in far different circumstances touched off months of protest in the city — and a host of lawsuits making similar First Amendment allegations as Brown.

Watch the video of Brown's arrest below.



We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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