MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing on behalf of a man who was charged with a crime for giving a state police trooper the middle finger.
The suit filed Wednesday on behalf of Gregory Bombard, of St. Albans, argues that Trooper Jay Riggen violated his rights under both the U.S. and Vermont constitutions.
“Vermonters who want to protest the actions of police through words or gestures have a constitutionally protected right to do so,” ACLU staff attorney Jay Diaz said in a statement. “This abuse of power by a Vermont state trooper is a clear example of just how overpoliced our communities are.”
Vermont State Police spokesman Adam Silverman said it is the department’s practice not to comment on pending litigation.
The suit filed Wednesday in Vermont Superior Court in Montpelier says Riggen stopped Bombard’s vehicle in St. Albans on Feb. 9, 2018, because he believed Bombard had shown him the middle finger. Bombard denied the allegation.
Once the initial stop was concluded, Bombard says he cursed and displayed the middle finger.
Bombard was stopped again and arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct. His car was towed. The charge was eventually dismissed.
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