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Man sues to protect his right to flip off cops

Robert Ekas flips off cops to express his displeasure at them. (Photo by Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)

Twice in 2007, Robert Ekas flipped off police in Oregon for no apparent reason than to express his First Amendment right to do so.

And twice he was pulled over.

Now he is suing

Robert Ekas flips off cops to express his displeasure at them. (Photo by Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian)


Twice in 2007, Robert Ekas flipped off police in Oregon for no apparent reason than to express his First Amendment right to do so.

And twice he was pulled over.

Now he is suing the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office for violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights. He is representing himself.

If recent history is any indicator, he has a strong case. It was only in November that a Pennsylvania man won $50,000 after he was cited for flipping off a cop.

Even a law professor interviewed by The Oregonian says that it is not unlawful to flip a cop off.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that speech may not be prohibited simply because some may find it offensive,” said Ira P. Robbins, a law professor from American University in Washington, D.C. “Virtually every time someone is arrested for this, assuming there’s no other criminal behavior … the case is either dismissed before trial or the person is convicted at trial and wins on appeal.”

The first time Ekas was pulled over for flipping a deputy off, he was cited for illegal lane change and improper display of license plates. Those charges were dismissed. The second time he claims he was harassed and detained, but not cited.

“What I am expressing is the right to dissent. That is to say, ‘Look, the policies that you’ve implemented … the things you’ve done in our community are offensive to me. Here’s my response to that offense,’” Ekas said.

“I did it because I have the right to do it,” Ekas said. “We all have that right, and we all need to test it. Otherwise we’ll lose it.”

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