Zombies’ Suit Is Back from the Dead

This is an ad for a board game about

zombies in jail.  The very same subject

matter as the 8th Circuit’s opinion.

Siouxsie has a warm place in her heart for the undead.  Apparently, the Eighth Circuit feels the same way.

Earlier this week, the Eighth Circuit ruled in favor of seven zombies whom cops had arrested in Minneapolis for protesting “mindless consumerism” during the 2006 Aquatennial.  (Technically, the undead in this case were just people wearing white powder and fake blood on their faces and dark makeup around their eyes.)  [source]

The zombies’ protest included carrying bags of sound equipment and playing music from an iPod, speakers and radios.  “They also broadcasted announcements such as ‘get your brains here’ and ‘[b]rain cleanup in Aisle 5’ by speaking into the wireless phone handset.”  [source]

The police also cooked-up some charges that the zombies (by carrying radio equipment and speakers) were displaying simulated weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The zombies were held in jail for two days.

The Court held that the actions of the police violated the zombies’ Fourth Amendment rights because the police had no probable cause to arrest the undead for disorderly conduct.  The Court reasoned that the Minnesota statute, which defines disorderly conduct, did not reach expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment.  And the Court concluded that the zombies’ conduct was a peaceful anti-consumerism protest that amounted to expressive conduct:

The plaintiffs intended to protest mindless consumerism when they dressed in zombie costumes, walked erratically, and broadcasted anti-consumerism statements over a makeshift, portable sound system. Moreover, under the surrounding circumstances, the likelihood was great that the plaintiffs’ artistic and symbolic message would be understood by those who viewed the protest.  [source]

The Eighth Circuit further held that the police did not have qualified immunity to protect them from civil damages arising out of their unconstitutional actions. The Court explained that the police should have known that there was no probable cause to arrest the zombies.  The Court noted that this was especially so because the Supreme Court of Minnesota previously had held that constitutionally protected speech includes “[someone] . . . protesting homosexuality by riding his horse through a crowd gathered to celebrate National Coming Out Day, shouting anti-homosexual statements, swinging a rope, and knocking over signs advertising the event.”  [source]

Siouxsie can empathize with the police officers reaction to the zombies.  In most zombie movies, police officers are quickly overpowered and devoured by zombies because they fail to comprehend the threat posed by the zombies.  The Eighth Circuit got it right though.  Fear of zombies does not give law enforcement officers probable cause to arrest.

Minneapolis cops would enjoy this game a lot.

Siouxsie has a proposed solution — For all the cops  and others that fear zombies and are looking for vengeance  — install the newly released iPhone application of Plants versus Zombies.

The Eighth Circuit opinion is at this link.

Source:  How Appealing

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~ by siouxsielaw on February 26, 2010.

One Response to “Zombies’ Suit Is Back from the Dead”

  1. Well I’ll be …

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