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ACLU sues 2 Indy police officers over car sticker

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An Indiana woman intended her bumper sticker reading "unmarked police car" as a joke, but two police officers didn't think it was funny. Now, they're being sued in federal court for allegedly violating the woman's free speech rights, and officials aren't laughing.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit last week on behalf of 56-year-old Pamela Konchinsky of Franklin. The complaint says Konchinsky was followed by two squad cars when she pulled into a parking garage near the mall where she works in downtown Indianapolis. The first car had its lights flashing. Konchinsky knew she hadn't violated any traffic laws.

The officers told her to remain in her minivan after asking for her license and registration, and then scolded her for the sticker taped in the rear window of her minivan.

One of the officers warned her during the June 17 incident that someone would think she was impersonating a police officer, and that someone might shoot at her, believing her to be an officer.

The bumper stickers proclaiming "unmarked police car" sell for $2.50 online. Konchinsky, the mother of one adult and one school-age child, works three jobs. She had received the sticker as a gift from a friend and taped it to the inside of her minivan's rear window about seven months ago.

"It's a joke — it's ironic," Kelly Eskew, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, told The Indianapolis Star. "It's like you or I wearing a T-shirt that says, 'Undercover cop.'"

But the officers took the issue seriously, and didn't allow Konchinsky to leave until she had removed the sticker from the window.

She didn't receive a citation, but the fuss made her late for work and her pay was docked as a result.

The lawsuit filed late last week claims the officers violated Konchinsky's First Amendment right to freedom of speech and her Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

Indianapolis corporation counsel Samantha DeWester said her office doesn't comment on pending litigation, but she did tell the Star that "We take every lawsuit against the city extremely seriously."

Indianapolis police spokesman Officer Chris Wilburn said police don't comment on pending litigation, either.

The complaint seeks to recover Konchinsky's lost wages and other costs, including legal fees.

"Ms. Konchinsky has not put the bumper sticker back on the minivan but wishes to do so as a humorous and ironic expression," the complaint reads.

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  • OK, Jose...
    Because a mini van with a bumper sticker taped to the inside rear window is a real threat to the community. I can see you saying that she would turn her van around and go in reverse really fast to catch up with perpetrators and instead of turning on her cherry's or wig wags, she'd instead point to the bumper sticker. Right?
  • inconsequential
    Maybe a bigger joke is how the ACLU picks its cases. Other than cases preventing Christians from exercising their religion, they mostly are about whining over trifling matters like this. Really, I don't disagree with the legal position, and will admit perhaps the cops erred, but ouch what a reply. Like hitting a fly with a sledgehammer. She didn't even get a ticket! Wow. Great topic for a lawsuit. NOT. ACLU has become a caricature of itself.
  • Cops
    I am with the Cops on this one. They could have been more subtle about the approach; but she (IMO) should not be able to have sign indicating she is police when she is not. just my opinion.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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