by Scotty Boman
Brighton-MI. The Libertarian candidate for Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District has been in the headlines as the result of a protest he organized. James Weeks II organized a rally to protest the fact that a teenager, Colin Anderson, was fined $200 for saying, “This is fucking bullshit” in earshot of a Brighton police officer. Weeks named the rally after the phrase Anderson was punished for saying.
In the days leading up to the May 31st protest, Weeks was featured on mainstream radio and television newscasts. This, in a market where libertarian campaigns are typically ignored. Regional print news articles were published in the Livingston Daily, Brighton Patch, the Lansing State Journal, the Fenton Patch, and The Detroit Free Press. Michigan radio stations also covered Week’s involvement in the event. They included WHMI and Michigan Radio. Weeks appeared on some or Michigan’s local television stations including WNEM, WXYZ, and WDIV.
However, the story didn’t stop in his home state. It was also picked up by publications in other states including the East Idaho News, Inquisitr, and Political Moll. Radio stations carrying the story in other states included KMBZ, WPRO, and WMAL. However, the largest audience was reached when ABC News picked up the story.
Of course the alternative media also announced plans for the protest including Adam vs. the Man, the Libertarian Republican, and Police State USA.
Peaceful Protest Receives Mixed Response
While the planning of the rally was well-publicized, reports on the rally were limited. WXYZ and WNEM reported protests by teenagers, but failed to mention the Libertarian component, WHMI reported small attendance. According to Weeks, the Livingston Daily was there as well.
Weeks told the Michigan Libertarian that, “We had around 60 protesters, an average of 30 at any time. From grandmothers to teenagers.” He said that while many of the protesters practiced “civil disobedience” there was at least as much swearing by hecklers who disapproved of the protest: “We had a mixed reaction, everything from support to people swearing at us.”
Weeks went on to say, “We got flipped the bird a few times. It was funny because they where engaging in civil disobedience and didn’t even know it. I loved it. But just about as many people supported us as opposed us, [with] honks, hand shakes, yelling supportive things, and waving as they drove by.”
In spite of the colorful language, nobody was ticketed. In fact, Weeks claims the police retreated. “just about the entire Brighton Police Department was watching us, hiding behind buildings, peaking out at us. Every time we noticed them, we moved to where they where, then they moved away until they finally got in their cars and left.”
The Michigan Libertarian attempted to contact the Brighton Police for their side of the story, but the receptionist said that only the Chief could be interviewed and that he wouldn’t be available until Thursday.
Brighton Visitors Can Be Ticketed and Fined for Saying Anything
While protesters, park officials and journalists have focused on the words Colin Anderson used, the law in Brighton does not prohibit the utterance of “fucking bullshit,” nor does it prohibit any other words or phrases. After repeatedly calling the Brighton Police Department on June second and asking which words were prohibited, the Michigan Libertarian reached Sergeant Bradford who said that the ordinance didn’t specify any particular words. When asked to identify the ordinance he said he couldn’t get to it saying, “My hands are full of fingerprint powder right now.”
Before reaching Bradford, the Michigan Libertarian reached an anonymous woman and asked which words were illegal in the City of Brighton. She told the author that he would have to wait to speak to the Chief on Thursday. This reporter asked, “If I were to visit Brighton today, how would I know if I were using illegal words.” She repeated that only the chief could answer that question. The reporter then said, “Since I need to finish this article before then, I will have to report that visitors have no way of knowing if they are breaking the law because the City of Brighton refuses to tell people ahead of time what’s illegal.”
She replied that that would be incorrect information, but hung up when asked what information would be correct.
While the Chief was not available for an interview, James Weeks said he had previously spoken to Police Chief Tom Wightman on this issue. According to Weeks, “The police chief says ‘any language [the officer thinks] breaches the peace’ is banned.”
… to be continued in the next Michigan Libertarian (and on the Website).