Pulido and Rojas – Are You Fucking Kidding Me?


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On Tuesday night Santa Ana Mayor Pulido and Police Chief Carlos Rojas halted, and ended the City Council meeting that is supposed to be open to the public, because of a Santa Ana CopWatch activist wearing a “Fuck the Police” hat.

Well, fuck.  You just shut down a public meeting because of a fucking hat?!

Fuck the Police, or FTP as it is often abbreviated to, is a standard phrase of the anti-police brutality movement. You can see it in Ferguson. You saw it in Fullerton. You see it all over the internet. It was a hit song by Compton based rap group NWA.  It’s in Wikipedia. It’s a hash tag on Twitter. It is part of popular culture. It is part of free expression.  It is protected by the First Amendment.  Remember that thing – the First Amendment – the thing that guarantees us free speech?  Or should I say free fucking speech?  Because that still applies in Santa Ana. Even if a bunch of butt-hurt cops and city council members don’t understand that, or think there is some kind of special exception for city council meetings. Or police officers with hurt feelings.  Or for fucking hats.

Apparently Santa Ana Mayor Pulido doesn’t recall the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, and the court cases of the students arrested for holding a sign that said “fuck.”  “Fuck” is protected speech. As a matter of fact, anything that isn’t an overt call to violence is protected free speech.  Since Bijan, the wearer of the hat wasn’t wearing a hat that said “Rape the Police” and then encouraging people to do so, there is no call to violence. Thus there is no cause for arrest. In fact, there was no cause to do anything but just proceed with the motherfucking meeting.

Public display of the word “Fuck” is constitutionally protected free speech as ruled by the Supreme Court in 1971. You cannot be arrested for it. Though Pulido and his minions threatened to arrest Bijan, there simply are no grounds. Such an arrest would have been thrown out of court and Bijan could have countersued the City of Santa Ana.

The Supreme Court and lower courts have also upheld the rights of people to yell at, insult, give the finger to, and curse at cops. You can drive by cops and flip them off and if they don’t like it, that’s just too fucking bad. Protected free speech. Our First Amendment rights trump your overinflated sense of impunity.  One of the seminal cases over this issue was here in OC:  Resek vs. the City of Huntington Beach.

The court ruled that a man screaming obscenities and making sarcastic remarks to police could not be arrested. Numerous lower court rulings have confirmed people’s rights to say whatever they want to police. As professionals, police are held by the courts to a higher standard and must not retaliate to “fighting words” where there is no physical threat behind them.

So what is the fucking problem exactly?  Maybe it is not with an attitude being expressed towards police, and maybe it is not a legal issue (since nobody was arrested) but simply an expression of intolerance towards profanity. Well, fuck.  Look Pulido, if the problem is your discomfort with the word fuck, you might want to look into banning the following movies from ever being shown in a movie theater or Blu-ray player in a home in your town:

  1. The Wolf of Wall Street which contained 569 instances of the word fuck (I’m assuming they include derivations such as fucking, fucker, fuckhead, motherfucker, motherfucking, etc.).
  2. Summer of Sam, which contained 435 uses of the word fuck
  3. Casino, which contained 422. Etc.

Expressions worse than “fuck the police” show up on TV shows on cable every single fucking day. And ever spend any time around actual cops?  They swear ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

Look, I understand some people don’t like profanity and I respect that. Personally, I try not to curse much in public, especially around kids. But sometimes you need to curse to make a fucking point. This was expressly political speech, being exhibited (on a fucking hat remember) at a political event.  This is as protected as free speech gets. What kind of fucking baby cancels a city council meeting over a fucking hat?

The underlying issue, which of course is getting swept under the rug, is the community’s dissatisfaction with their city’s police.  If the Santa Ana police department and its city council are so desperate to maintain the respect of the public, maybe they should try violating less people’s civil rights, engaging in less acts of wanton brutality, and cleaning up their act. Because until they do, it’s FTP all day, every day. And whether we say it out loud, put it on a hat, or just think it – there’s only one way to make it go away. And throwing a fucking temper tantrum about it isn’t it.

(Image courtesy of A. J. Redkey)


About Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor is Professor of Geography at California State University, Fullerton, and is assisting on the creation of a national database of police killings at http://www.fatalencounters.org/