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$175,000 Settlement: Vermont Pays Up for Arresting Man for Giving Trooper the Middle Finger, Raising Free Speech Concerns!

Settlement Reached in First Amendment Lawsuit

ACLU Highlights Importance of Police Respect for Free Speech

(According to FOX NEWS), Vermont has agreed to pay $175,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Gregory Bombard, who claimed his First Amendment rights were violated when he was arrested in 2018 for giving a state trooper the middle finger. The incident took place during a traffic stop in St. Albans where Trooper Jay Riggen pulled Bombard over suspecting him of making an offensive gesture. Bombard denied this accusation but acknowledged using profanity and displaying the middle finger after the initial stop ended. The ACLU of Vermont supported Bombard’s case arguing that his arrest for disorderly conduct was unjust and violated his constitutional right to free speech.

The settlement completed this month, includes $100,000 for Bombard and $75,000 to cover legal fees for the ACLU of Vermont and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE). ACLU attorney Hillary Rich stressed that while Bombard is pleased with the outcome the incident underscores the importance of police respecting citizens’ rights even in cases where actions may be seen as offensive. Vermont State Police chose not to comment on the settlement and Vermont did not admit fault maintaining a neutral position on the case.

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$175,000 Settlement: Vermont Pays Up for Arresting Man for Giving Trooper the Middle Finger, Raising Free Speech Concerns! (PHOTO: Carscoops)

Advocate Calls for Police Training to Safeguard Free Speech Rights

Gregory Bombard in a statement facilitated by the ACLU expressed hope that the Vermont State Police would enhance training to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. His advocacy aims to safeguard individuals’ rights to freely express dissent without fear of retaliation or arbitrary police actions. The case has sparked broader discussions about the boundaries of free speech and the responsibilities of law enforcement nationwide. It underscores the ongoing need for police departments to foster greater awareness and adherence to constitutional protections ensuring that citizens’ rights are respected and upheld in all interactions with law enforcement.

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