Flex Your Rights’ response to the new random search policy on D.C. public transportation may soon find us in court. The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has threatened us with legal action due to our use of Metro’s "M" logo on our informational flyer about refusing random searches. Metro alleges that our use of the logo on the widely-distributed flyer constitutes a violation of their registered servicemark and has promised legal action if we do not destroy all remaining flyers and issue an apology by January 5th.
The 5th has now passed, and we have no intention of complying with Metro’s ill-conceived intimidation tactics. We’re well aware that the 1st Amendment protects "fair use" of trademarked material for the purpose of criticism. The ACLU of the National Capital Area has agreed to represent us in the event that Metro files a lawsuit. Our attorney Art Spitzer contacted Metro in a letter today, urging that the legal threats against us be promptly withdrawn to avoid an inevitable loss in court.
As controversy surrounding the random search program continues to escalate, Metro’s frivolous threat is just the latest in a series of bad choices by Metro dating back to the announcement of the program itself. Here’s a quick recap of what’s happened so far:
Being on the blunt edge of technology, I’ve just subscribed to my first podcast. Created by rockstar attorney, David Clark (AKA: Smoove D.), the show celebrates the myriad reasons why the 4th Amendment, um, rocks. Enjoy!
On Wednesday, Flex Your Rights brought together numerous allies, volunteers and friends to protest random searches on public transportation in the Nation’s Capital. The effort was aimed at voicing opposition to the new search policy, while educating the public about the 4th Amendment right to refuse police searches.
In response to the random search program announced yesterday by the Metro Transit Police, we’ve prepared this handy guide to protecting your rights when using public transportation in the Washington, D.C. area. We’ll also be organizing some volunteers to help distribute flyers about the program at various Metro stations. Please contact us if you’re interested in helping out.
Alas, the looming specter of subway searches has finally descended on our nation’s capital. We’ve long assumed it was just a matter of time, but as time came and went, it seemed the tragic fad of frivolous subway searches would elude us. Unfortunately, we were wrong.
People who’ve had bad experiences with police have sometimes responded negatively to our materials, arguing that police will simply take things to the next level if you refuse a search. Here’s an interesting example from Florida, in which police were forced to drop the charges after wrongfully arresting a suspect who refused a search:
Constitution Day is an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental rights and freedoms we enjoy as Americans. But for many, it also provides an occasion to take note of all the ways in which the promise of liberty handed down by our forefathers has been broken time and again as our criminal justice system grows sufficiently enormous to terrify even the best-behaved among us. … Continued
New FBI data shows that more people were arrested for marijuana last year than ever before. It’s a harsh reminder that police still spend a lot of time and resources trying to catch people with small amounts of pot. … Continued
ABC’s 20/20 covers the tragic death of 23-year-old Florida girl, Rachel Hoffman. Caught with what the Tallahassee police chief described as “about a baggie” of marijuana, she was tricked/blackmailed/threatened into becoming a police informant.
The chief blames Rachel for her death, repeatedly calling her a drug criminal. But it is clear that he is a scoundrel defending incompetent, callous officers who sent a sheep into a lions’ den.