Free Speech V. Police State: Man Arrested For Sign Warning Of Speed Trap

Everyone knows that, if the police or the governments that hired police cared about safety and believed that keeping drivers from speeding would make them safer, the police would make their presence known and be as visible as possible.

But that’s not what police do. This isn’t the fault of the officers, necessarily. Their bosses would probably fire them if they attempted to actually encourage the safety in motorists in this way.

Instead, the police hide out in places where they think that people are likely to speed. Then they wait and collect revenue from the people they catch.

Most motorists know that their relationship as drivers to the police is that of the gazelle to a lion. That is why certain customs have developed on U.S. roadways—such as flashing your lights at oncoming traffic to warn them when you have passed a police care hiding from view monitoring traffic. It is just a friendly, neighborly habit we have developed to pass on information to other peaceful travelers to warn them that there is someone lying in wait who means them harm and wants to shake them down.

When Somali boaters do it, it’s piracy. But give a town government a patrol car and it is turned into “police work.”

But now, police in Texas have move against someone who tried to be neighborly to his fellow travelers. ABC News:

A Texas man who was arrested for waving a sign to warn drivers of a lurking traffic cop defended himself in a court by saying his warning was “the same thing as a speed limit sign.”

Ron Martin, 33, appeared in court Wednesday to fight a misdemeanor charge of waving a homemade sign.

He was arrested last October after Police Officer Thomas Mronzinski saw him on the median strip of a six-lane highway holding up the sign – he is a sign painter by trade – reading “Police Ahead.”

The officer first had his suspicions that Martin was in the area as he sat in his unmarked police car on Eldorado Parkway in Frisco, Texas.

“I observed a couple of cars drive by traveling westbound waving at us,” Mronzinski wrote in his arrest report. “Mr. Martin has a history with the Frisco Police Department Officers in holding signs in the center median of traffic stating ‘police ahead.'”

A colleague had also radioed earlier that morning to warn Mronzinski that he had seen Martin in the area.

Mronzinski wrote in the report that as he approached, Martin began videotaping the arrest on his phone. After a number of requests to drop the sign, Martin complied and Mronzinski, along with another officer he had radioed for backup, were able to handcuff Martin and take him into custody.

Mronzinski also wrote he had seen Martin conducting similar activities two times that month, and that in one instance Martin “was running back and forth in the center median holding a sign.”

Martin told the court that by displaying the warning, ultimately he was trying to do the same job as law enforcement and encourage people (and officers) to driver more slowly.

The fact that a man has a record of holding up a sign should be meaningless to any criminal court. He has a right to free speech. End of story.

I suppose some will doubt Martin’s claims about his intentions—that he wasn’t trying to frustrate the police but rather keep people safe. I wish he hadn’t mentioned his intentions. They are irrelevant. He had the right to hold up a sign. The government has no business passing judgment on his intentions. They are irrelevant. The man has the right to communicate to others via signs. This is America. That point should not be in dispute.

Martin’s claim that “ultimately he was trying to do the same job as law enforcement and encourage people (and officers) to driver more slowly” is obviously false. He was doing the job that the “law enforcement” would do if they wanted to stop people from speeding, that is, if they were concerned about the safety of motorists. But that is obviously not their job or their mission. Their job is to collect revenue for the government that pays their bills.

We all know this is true, no matter how commonly we allow politicians to lie about it.