Daily Adams

ACLU fights for right to print handbills free of police scrutiny

Police in Poplar Bluff, Missouri unlawfully took matters in their own hands in an effort to identify and intimate a resident protesting a public project:

ST. LOUIS, MO — Sunday, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri filed a suit against the City of Poplar Bluff for an unconstitutional ordinance regarding the distribution of handbills without a permit and advance written consent of the operators of each vehicle. The ACLU is representing Brian Becker, who feared arrest after distributing handbills opposing a local $20 million bond initiative for sewer upgrades.

Earlier this month, a Poplar Bluff Police Department officer cited Becker for placing handbills on vehicles without a permit. The officer also wanted to know who provided the handbills, but Becker declined to answer. A Poplar Bluff officer went to the local Office Depot, but employees refused to voluntarily turn over any records regarding who had printed the handbills. Later that evening, an officer with a warrant seized a note with the name and cell phone number of the person who copied the handbills, a receipt, two proofs of the handbills and a thumb drive with digital images of the original handbill design.


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