A Florida man facing obscenity charges for having an “I eat ass” window sticker on his pickup truck finds his arrest a little hard to swallow.
Dillon Shane Webb, 23, was arrested Sunday afternoon in Lake City after a Columbia County sheriff’s deputy saw the message on the rear window of the vehicle.
When the officer pulled Webb over, he claimed the sticker violated a Florida statute dealing with the possession and distribution of obscene material, according to the Lake City Reporter.
Webb disagreed, saying the message was “just words.”
That prompted the deputy to ask Webb how “a parent of a small child would explain the meaning of the words,” to which Webb replied that it would be “up to the parent,” according to a police report obtained by The Smoking Gun.
The deputy then gave Webb a notice to appear at the Columbia County Courthouse on May 23 and took a photo of the offending sticker as evidence.
But when the deputy asked Webb to remove one of the letters from the word “ass” so the statement on the sticker would “no longer be derogatory,” the suspect refused, citing his First Amendment rights, according to the report.
Webb was then charged with resisting and taken to jail, only to be released several hours later on $2,500 bond, according to The Associated Press.
The truck was towed, but Webb said the sticker was still in place when he retrieved the vehicle from the impound lot.
Webb now plans to file a wrongful arrest lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.
“I’m tired of police forces thinking they are above the Constitution, the Bill of Rights,” Webb told the AP, adding that he seriously doubted any kids would suffer as a result of seeing his raunchy window sticker.
“I’ve had parents drive by me with their kids taking pictures. They point and laugh and giggle, and they go on about their day,” he said.
Webb said he put the sticker on the truck less than a week before his arrest as a group joke with several other friends.
“I guess this cop just didn’t find it funny, and he just thought he has to put me in jail,” Webb said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida released a statement Tuesday questioning the deputy’s sticker stop.
“Shouldn’t police officers spend their time serving and protecting communities and not pulling Floridians over for speech that is already protected by the First Amendment?” ACLU spokeswoman Casey Bruce-White said in a statement. “Using the excuse that a child would see and ask questions about this particular bumper sticker is absurd.”
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Murray Smith told the AP that the deputy had probable cause at the time of the arrest, and that if the law is faulty, it’s up to the Legislature to address it or the judiciary to declare it unconstitutional.
Webb conceded that some people might find his sticker vulgar, but that the existing law doesn’t provide a clear definition.
“What’s vulgar to me might not be vulgar to somebody else,” Webb told the AP.