Indiana cops say they can’t do anything about a man who hanged President Donald Trump in effigy. A spokesperson for the Fort Wayne police department, Michael Joyner, says the army veteran who owns the display is protected by the First Amendment, according a WANE report from Sunday.
“It was kind of shocking,” neighbor Jared Paden told the outlet. “Honestly, I don’t necessarily like it. I’m not really excited about it being in my neighborhood.”
The display shows the president hangingby a noose, and holding the Soviet flag. That’s an apparent reference to the allegation made by U.S. intelligence officials that Russia helped him win the election. Several signs hang on the home. And in case anyone wonders how he feels about the president, one banner reads “Trump is a disgrace to America & makes me ashamed I ever served.” Other signs say the home contains alarms, CC TV, and guns.
The man, who remains unidentified, declined an interview with WANE. Neighbors are ambivalent, at best.
“We’re all for free speech, but we are concerned that a line has been crossed and about what to do next,” Oakdale Neighborhood President Tom Tiernon told the outlet. He said the neighborhood association is discussing possible actions.
It’s unlikely any criminal prosecution will come out of this. For comparison’s sake, look at this story from June. A gun store owner said Secret Service agents talked to him because he put the faces of three Democrats on gun targets and sold those. Not just anybody: then-President Barack Obama, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He wasn’t arrested.
“Generally speaking the First Amendment protects such speech unless it could be said to ‘incite imminent lawless action,’” First Amendment attorney Susan Buckley told LawNewz.com at the time. She’s an attorney at Cahill Gordon & Reindel. “Although I would hope that most people would find the targets offensive and irresponsible, the First Amendment should protect them.”
[Screengrab via WANE]