Man screams homophobic and racist slurs at random members of the public. Police refuse to arrest because he has a right to ‘free speech’
Despite receiving a volley of calls about a man spewing racist and homophobic slurs in a southeastern South Dakota city, police said they will not arrest him as his actions fall under “free speech”.
The man was standing in downtown Sioux Falls Monday evening (13 July) when tensions flared as he began hurling homophobic and racist slurs at people. Authorities said he was trying to get a rise out of people, who began to report the man on Phillips Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets.
Several residents filmed the man, Argus Leader reported, who was outside the Carpenter Bar, an upmarket watering hole, that was flying an LGBT+ Pride flag.
Video shows unhinged man, face red, raging at bargoers and calling them homophobic slurs.
Footage showed the unmanned man screaming outside the bar, arguing and trading barbs with patrons, and a witness claimed he had a bucket of water dunked on him – his t-shirt was visibly wet in the video.
Bargoers looked on in disbelief as he screeched “n*****” and f****t”, before raging that the people outside the bar are “disgusting”, a “mob”, “fascists”, a**holes” alongside many, many other bowdlerised insults as his face reddens.
“How much violence over freedom of speech will you allow?” the man shouts at a Black man he reportedly just called the N-word, in a not-so-veiled reference to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The man then accuses the bargoer of being “violent” prompting a patron to ask: “What violence are we doing?” He then phoned the authorities.
However, Sioux Falls Police Department representatives stressed that the man was within his legal rights to spout the comments in public and will, as a result, face no repercussions.
Man who spewed inflammatory homophobic slurs will face no repercussions because of ‘free speech’. Yes, really.
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“What he’s doing really falls under free speech, so there’s really no laws that are broken,” spokesperson Sam Clemens said.
Clemens then proceeded to explain that the individual was likely out to roil people, so he recommended members of the public either simply ignore people like him or report them to law enforcement – people did report the man for his behaviour to the police, though.
“There’s probably not a whole lot of things we can do in a situation like that, but sometimes having officers come and talk to people is enough to maybe persuade them to go somewhere else,” Clemens said.
He added that authorities have encountered the man for similar actions before, but no arrests have been made.
“Freedom of speech” has long been used as a club by certain discriminatory people to compel those simply trying to extinguish hatred to back down.
Various high-profile cases have dotted the US in recent years of anti-LGBT+ people pursuing legal action when their views are shut down by institutions.
Nicholas Meriwether, a religious philosophy professor at Ohio’s Shawnee State University, had sued his employer with help from anti-LGBT+ lobbying group Alliance Defending Freedom, claiming that it had infringed upon his freedom of speech and religion by asking him to stop referring to female transgender students as men.
However, a federal court dismissed his action in February – finding that the university did not infringe on Meriwether’s rights by asking him to stop using “sir” and “Mr” to address the student, identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit.