Tuesday, December 06, 2011

11th Circuit Rejects Suit By Mardi Gras Demonstrator Against Police

In Bethel v. City of Mobile, (11th Cir., Dec. 2, 2011), the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a claim by a Mardi Gras demonstrator that his arrest for disorderly conduct violated his free exercise, 4th Amendment and the equal protection rights. Orlando Bethel was standing on a sidewalk in Mobile, Alabama, along the Mardi Gras parade route with a sign reading: "GOD hates you SINners repent in JESUS name live SIN free." A woman also at the parade called police complaining that Bethel was harassing her 13-year old daughter, calling her a "whore" and a"slut." The court concluded that this gave officers probable cause to arrest Bethel, so that they had qualified immunity as to Bethel's 4th Amendment claim. It also found Bethel presented no evidence that his arrest violated his 1st or 14th Amendment rights. (See prior related posting.)