“Fuck you,” responded Stephen Benavides. Not even giving it a second to think about it.
The Madisonville police officer, joined by his partner, wasted no time in grabbing him and taking him to jail.
The incident took place July 18 in Madisonville, a town of less than 5,000 about two hours outside of Dallas where Benavides and others were recording cops in a gas station who had pulled over a driver when they were approached and harassed.
On July 18, 2015 three Dallas area activists headed down south to Waller County Jail to conduct an independent investigation into the murder of #SandraBland. Those activists are @LOLatWhiteFear, @WickedBeaute, and @S_Benavides1. While at the county jail the activists were able to interview incarcerated inmates through a fence opening in the back of the jail, and the actual Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith.
Afterwards, on the 4 hour drive back to Dallas that night the group stopped in Madisonville, TX to use the restroom. Across the street, Madisonville Police had a Black man pulled over and out of his car. This prompted the group to begin filming the interaction to ensure the safety of the driver.
After the driver was let go, Madisonville PD approached the group and began arguing about their efforts to #FilmThePolice. During the back and forth @S_Benavides1 used a curse word. Madisonville PD then warned him to not use profanity again, or he would be taken to jail. He did, was arrested and spent the night in Madison County Jail on charges of “Disorderly Conduct”.
Full video of the illegal arrest and interview with Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith can be found here:http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/68020238
The Supreme Court ruled in Cohen v California (1971) that profanity, specifically words such as “fuck” and “fuck you” are protected speech even when directed at law enforcement. This arrest by Madisonville PD is therefore illegal and is a violation of the First Amendment. It is also a clear attack on efforts to #FilmThePolice.
@S_Benavides1 has filed a Motion for New Trial, has pled Not Guilty to the charge of Disorderly Conduct, and will be taking the case to trial. This means we need your support in funding his legal defense!!! Please donate what you can. https://rally.org/f/kUhNYaDBy0U
Besides the Supreme Court decision mentioned in the above description, numerous other courts have ruled that profanity towards police officers is protected speech.
But Texas cops seem to have an issue with that as we saw with the Antonio Buehler case this year, which resulted in two mistrials before prosecutors finally decided to drop the charge.