The same month a New York State judge wrote about the long history of flipping the bird being free speech comes news that a Harlem man is seeking $2.1 million from the city after he says he was harassed by the police because he gave an NYPD detective a middle finger salute. Wait, haven't we seen this one before?
According to 22-year-old Aneury Peralta, back in October 2011 he and an unidentified detective's cars were stuck behind a garbage truck on E. 107th Street. Realizing it would be a while before he could get off the block, Peralta says he tried to slip into a parking spot near him, but the car behind wouldn't move. So he waited.
Realizing the garbage truck was moving, Peralta started to move, too — but, his lawyer said, he was annoyed by the honking, so he stuck his hand out the window. “He did what virtually everyone does in New York. He gave him the finger,” Okoli said in an interview.
The other driver jumped out of his car, opened Peralta’s door and demanded, “Say to me again what you just said,” according to Okoli.
Peralta obliged — sticking out his middle finger — again.
At this point Peralta claims the other driver then pushed him, and made it clear he was a member of the NYPD. He also "violently removed [Peralta's] key from the ignition" and broke it, according to court papers. Finally, the other man called for backup and two officers arrived and gave Peralta a ticket for disorderly conduct (which was then dismissed).
It didn't end there. Peralta says that three weeks after the incident three cops and a sergeant arrived at his family's bodega and demanded to see his license. "The suit claims that when the sergeant told Peralta there was a warrant out for his arrest, Peralta reached for a cell phone to call his brother. He was busted on the spot and charged with resisting arrest." The Manhattan DA's office declined to prosecute that charge.
Now Peralta wants to be paid (a lot) for his trouble. Interestingly, two weeks ago Paul Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, was asked about police officers arresting people for flipping the bird. His response? If NYPD officers "locked up everyone who gave the middle-finger salute, traffic would grind to a halt."