First Amendment Rights

“He has a right to speak,” said the cop to the banker

This is a long post but an enjoyable read from marvinborg over at…

Daily Kos

The flyer says:

Move Your MoneyThis bank is run by crooks

They crashed the world economy and blamed it on the poor
They take your deposits and use them to buy politicians, to de-regulate and give them immunity, interest-free loans and bailouts

Then they turn around and charge you fees to make them even richer

November 5th is move your money day

Take your money to a credit union or community bank that will use your money in the community and not to pervert the rule of law and fill their own pockets

[QR code with the URL above]

At around noon, I put on my best suit, white shirt and tie. I went and stood outside Chase during rush-hour and handed out flyers.

“Good afternoon Sir/Ma’am – The big banks are run by CROOKS, they played casino with your money and crashed the economy. Your money is not safe with them.” and handed them a flyer. Big smile, totally non-threatening, not blocking the sidewalk, kept walking the entire time.

Outside the bank was an armed private security guard. His name is George. I know this because I first introduced myself, gave him a flyer and told him I would cause him no trouble. George is one of the 99% and he had no beef in the banks game.

Within a few minutes, both banks stationed an employee just inside the door to prevent me from entering. They also called mall security to come and shoo me away. Inside the branches, employees were running around like headless chickens terrified of a single guy, in a suite, politely handing out flyers.

The first “senior” security guy arrives, George’s boss. Now there’s two.

Sec2: “Are you the one handing out flyers?”
MB: “Yes Sir, would you like one?”
Sec2: “You can’t do that here!”
MB: “Is that so Sir, why not?”
Sec2: “This is private property!”
MB: “The sidewalk is private property? It looks to me like it is open to the public. I’m the public and I’m not blocking or bothering anyone. As you can see, I am being polite and respectful, just handing out flyers. Excuse me [person was walking by] Hi Ma’am, this bank is run by crooks – [hand out a flyer]”
Sec2: “Well I did my job and warned you”
MB: “Well thank you for the warning. I will not cause you any trouble, Sir, but I will not stop handing out flyers”.

10 minutes later. Another security guy arrives, with backup. Now there’s four.
Sec3 to Sec2: “Where is he?”
MB: “I’m right here!!”
Sec3: “You need to leave”
MB: “Why is that, Sir? Would you like a flyer?”
Sec3: “You can’t do that here”
MB: “On the contrary, Sir, I have every right to be here and every right to hand out flyers, respectfully. I will not cause you any trouble”
Sec3: “We’ll see about that [grabs a flyer], we’ll see about that”
MB: “have a great afternoon, Sir”

5 minutes later, a huge guy arrives, goes to talk to the branch manager. Now there’s 5. The BofA manager (spiffy suit!) walks out with him from the branch.

BofABoss: “What, are you working for the credit union?”
MB[my best line of the day]: “No Sir, they work for me, unlike your bank that works for investors and shareholders”
BofABoss: “Get a job!”
MB: “I have a job. I run a company. I created 17 jobs in the last 5 years, while you were blowing up the economy. How many jobs did you destroy?”
BofABoss: “Well go do your job then”
MB: “Right now, my job is telling your customers that your bank is run by crooks”
BofABoss: “We’ll see about that”

10 minutes later, the police arrive. Two motorcycle cops, one male, one female.

I calmly walk up to them as they are dismounting their bikes, keep about 10 ft of distance and smiling with both hands visible.

MB “Good afternoon officers. Are you here for me?”
Off1: “Why, what did you do? [hehe, trick question]”
MB: “Nothing, officers. I’m politely and calmly handing out flyers and talking to people. I’m not blocking the sidewalk or causing any disturbance”
Off1: “Well, let’s see what’s going on, wait here”
MB: “Yes officer, I will not leave, thank you”

Both officers go into the bank to talk to BofABoss. They come out a few minutes later.

Off1: “They say you are trespassing. Did you go into the bank?”
MB: “No Sir, I did not enter the premises at any time. I have been walking along the sidewalk, not blocking traffic or their business and I have been handing out flyers. If you ask George here he will tell you that I’m not bothering anyone, he’s watched me for almost an hour”. George nods, and says “this guy, no problem”.

BofABoss comes out with a triumphant smirk. Officer1 turns to him:

“He has the right to speak and the right to hand out flyers. Unless he blocks you or causes a disturbance, he has the right to be here – please don’t call the police again if he is not bothering you. If you don’t like free speech you should move to another country”


The banker turns bright red and storms back inside.

Off1: “Keep it peaceful, now. This is the way to protest, I have no problem with you as long as you don’t block”.
MB: “Yes officer! Thank you so much, have a nice day”

For almost 90 minutes, I moved between the Chase and the BofA, handing out flyers. Inside, I saw the manager of the Chase [ChaseBoss], conferring with an employee. The employee turns around and shows me my own flyer, photocopied in with many other pages – they are building a FILE on me! I pretended to tremble in fear, which only pissed them off more. Like I’m gonna be scared of a photocopier. Guess what, I have a printer too…

I handed out 250 flyers, got laughs, nods, support, high-fives and plenty of perplexed looks, as people read my flyer.

As I left, I told George: “See you tomorrow George”

This was so much fun, I will surely see George tomorrow…

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