Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cop Investigated for threatening rainbow flag carriers

CASA GRANDE (Observer Update) - A Casa Grande police officer is under investigation after allegedly threatening to arrest a group of gay demonstrators for carrying a rainbow flag within city limits, reported

The small group of demonstrators on Wednesday was protesting US tax law, which does not allow same-sex couples to file joint returns. The group said the federal Defense of Marriage law forces gay couples to pay higher taxes than married couples do.

The police officer was apparently called by a driver complaining that the 8 foot by 5 foot flag had obstructed his view of traffic.

Protest organizer Christopher Hall told The Arizona Republic that the protesters were well behaved.

“I was upset more than anything and confused as to what was the problem,” said Hall the president of Central Arizona Rainbow Equality.

Hall said that he checked with city officials before holding the demonstration and the protesters were abiding by a requirement they be at least seven feet from the sidewalk.

Hall said that the the officer asked for their identification and the protesters complied. They were then told they could not fly the flag “anywhere” in the city limits or they would risk arrest.

“This was wrong,” Hall told The Republic. “They’ve actually violated, in my opinion, First Amendment rights.”

Hall said the group has filed a complaint with police, and that he has a meeting with Police Chief Robert Huddleston on Monday.

“The Casa Grande Police Department will continue to work with this and any other citizen group to respect their right to assemble and demonstrate in a safe manner.,” Huddleston said in a statement. “We apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding, and look forward to the completion of the investigation.”

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