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by Paul Tay
Sunday, Jun. 29, 2003 at 6:37 PM
Free Speech Ain't Free
On April 3, 2003, the Tulsa Police Department arrested First Amendment activist, Paul Tay. To celebrate the American traditions of free speech, he was driving a bicycle towing a trailer, carrying a six-foot inflatable replica of the penis, the upside-down flag of the State of Mississippi, and a banner with this message: GET A BONER, NOT A BOMB.
While driving the bicycle and trailer, dubbed BonerMobile, Tay vigorously and repeatedly thrusted the middle finger of his left hand at passing traffic, a form of protected free speech. Complying with a City of Tulsa Ordinance, 37 TRO 1007, he did not have any objects in his hands, and did not throw anything.
Though he found no indecency violations, Tulsa Police Officer James A. Comstock arrested Tay for throwing objects at moving vehicles and assaulting on a police officer. A citizen's complaint on Officer Comstock's field laptop: I am so offended by that bicycle. If you don't arrest him, I will run him over.
In transit to the Tulsa Police substation, Officer Comstock hit Tay on the lower lip, while Tay was in handcuffs and strapped under the front seat belt. In the police cruiser and preparing the legal defense in his head, Tay wondered aloud whether he should subpoena Officer Comstock's 8 year-old daughter.
Officer Comstock began screaming repeatedly, "You will not bring my family into this. Do you understand?"
During the initial contact, Officer Comstock put handcuffs on Tay, without any charges. Instead of reading the Miranda rights, Officer Comstock said his 8 year-old daughter was offended by the BonerMobile. He said he was arresting Tay for her.
After he hit Tay, Officer Comstock called EMSA, Tulsa's emergency service, to examine Tay at the police station. To cover up for his first mistake, Officer Comstock added the charge of assaulting on a police officer.
Before posting bail, Tay spent five days in Tulsa County Jail. During the 2002 Tulsa Mayoral election, Tay finished as the first Independent candidate in a field of five and spent one day in jail for soliciting votes, while waving the American flag.
Your contribution will pay for Tay's legal defense, projected to be in excess of ,000. Follow the case through the link below:
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