• Dec 29, 2008
As a political statement against Maryland politician E. J. Pikpkin's run for national office, Charles Richter painted a swastika on his car next to the words "Vote Pipken" and parked it legally on a public street. The same day it was parked, a sheriff's deputy ticketed the car as abandoned. Two days later, the car was towed from the same spot. When Richter refused to pay the impound lot to get his car back, it was crushed. Richter has brought suit against the deputy, and a federal judge has just ruled that the lawsuit can go forward.
Richter, explaining another swastika-adorned vehicle that was also a protest against Pipken, wrote in one forum, "Painted on my Van was... The American Indian Peace sign which happens to be the Swastika printed back wards." The decorative swastika, also used by Native Americans, is literally thousands of years old, has positive meanings, and is still used in certain Eastern cultures. It is often depicted in mirror image to the Nazi swastika, but it can be drawn with its arms going either way, right or left. The Nazi swastika is only rendered one way, with its arms to the right. We don't know if the van swastika was different than the car swastika, but the one on the car matches the Nazi swastika, and, of course, the Native American swastika, as well.

The lawsuit verdict is evidently based on the weight of free speech and political objection. According to the judge, Richter has First Amendment rights during "an act of political protest." The deputy sheriff who ticketed the car, parked legally on public property, violated those rights. It could also be taken into account, however, that E. J. Pipken is Jewish, which would open the door to considerations of hate speech. We don't know if the judge had anything to say on that issue, but for now, the case can proceed.

[Source: Maryland Daily Record]


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  • 21 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Anyway the Judge feels that's the Deputy did something wrong, that's why he allowed the lawsuit against the Deputy or Police Department to continue. The car was parked legally on the street and had no violation that should have had it ticketed for only one day.
        • 6 Years Ago
        All it says is that the judge thought, "Hey, maybe you have a case. I'll grant you the arena in which to present it." It doesn't mean anything regarding the outcome of the case. That part comes much later. Ludicrous cases are heard more often than not, and then fail. Once it's in the appeals process (after the initial court decision) is when courts will begin with any notable frequency to refuse to hear a case because it lacks merit.

        If this were dating, its equivalent would be throwing out a pickup line at a girl and she's decided she'll let you talk to her for a few minutes before she decides if she likes you or not. It doesn't mean she's going home with you.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Where did you get your law degree from? Did you get a discount with Sunday paper coupons?

        The judge is allowing the lawsuit to go forward because Richter has brought enough claims to raise triable issues. This alone says nothing about the merits of the evidence. As long as you satisfy the procedural rules of the jurisdiction, getting your complaints into the court is almost never a problem.

        That's what happened here. Richter filed suit in court, and the judge agreed to hear the case. This is normal, as most courts are reluctant to turn down complaints unless they are blatantly meritless or fail due to procedural reasons.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't see the controvery here either. The guy leaves an eyesore of a raggly Chevy Beretta illegally parked for 3 days. He made no attempts to get it back after its impounded. It looks like a $200 car to me, and now its crushed. The End. It doesn't really matter what is painted on it.

      Illegally parked is the main thing that to me, that might trump the "3 day" thing. If I parked my car on the curb/grass in front of the county courthouse or police station, I wonder if it would really stay there for 3 days.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Re-read the article. The car was legally parked.

        Without reading Maryland state laws, or local laws in that city/county, it certainly appeared abandoned. However, where was it parked?

        Around here, cars park in front of houses months at a time, I know of one near my grandmother that has a truck that hasn't moved since she moved there in '93. It's parked legally on the street. On the highway, they put a notice on it after 24 hours. Then they let it sit for 3 months (or more, it's supposed to be another 24 hours before being towed). Then they tow it. As the only time a vehicle of ours has been impounded was the Buick that my grandfather had stolen from him(he didn't claim it, as he felt it wasn't worth the effort), I don't know how long until notice is given, or how much time you get to claim it before crushed. Though I think they're actually auctioned off, not crushed.

        Parking lots are up to the owner of the lot, not local authorities. Police typically won't handle parking lot wrecks even. If it was in a parking lot, then the deputy may have acted well outside his legal authority. On a road in front of a house, if it was the owner of the car's house, then he may have as well. In front of someone else's house or parked along a major road, then he was within legal bounds. Off the road entirely, in the owner's yard, definitely out of bounds.

        Needs more facts to make a real conclusion, including detail on the applicable laws. The judge allowing the suit to go forward could mean the plaintiff or lawyer bribed him, he didn't like the politician or deputy in question, or might just let any damn thing get through. Lord knows many judges are like that.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The car looks like a graffitied, clapped-out box. In short, it looks like your typical abandoned car. After being left for THREE DAYS, who would think that it's not abandoned? Let's use common sense here.

      The deputy didn't crush the car or have anything to do with that. Everything that happened to Richter's car was his own fault. Had the car actually been in use, Richter would have noticed the citation at some point during the three days the car didn't move. Had Richter paid the fine to get the car out of impound, it wouldn't have been crushed. It's not like this is a short process, or difficult to stop. The car was probably worth less than the impound fee and citation, and paying wouldn't have allowed him this chance to whine and cry about how his rights were stepped on.

      His rights weren't violated. This isn't about rights at all. It's about a car that was abandoned, cited, towed, impounded, and crushed, and at no time did its owner step up to retrieve his car.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Teek, do you actually not see the difference between parking your car out in front of your house and leaving a graffitied junkyard car in a parking lot? The simple fact is that Richter LEFT the car there and never even bothered to try to get it out of impound. How is that not the perfect definition of an abandoned car?

        In the picture, it looks like he left it on the side of a street. That makes it even simpler to impound it and begins to make it a public safety concern.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Three days is hardly long enough to be considered abandoned. A week or more would be more "common sense" as you put it. We all know why the car was marked abandoned, so no need to dance around the issue. The deputy didn't like the message, and acted out of spite, abused his power, and probably lost his job for it.

        There was no "common sense" being used here by the deputy, now he gets to pay for his mistakes.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Rob, are you simple? My car is out on the street, parked legally, for 4 days at a time; I use it only a few times a month. Should it be cited, towed, crushed?

        What if I had an Obama sticker and the sheriff cited, towed, and crushed my car for bieng legally parked on the street?

        The swastika has been around far longer than the Nazis. Its too bad they perverted a symbol of peace to spread thier repulsive hate filled propoganda. In my culture (south-east asian) we have used it for thousands of years--and we will continue to do so. Perhaps, if we are lucky, it will come to symbolise peace more than hate to the western world.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm not going to judge the guy on what he chooses to paint on his car to send whatever message. I don't see this as hate speech at all either, the only speech on the car is "vote XXXX"

      He parked it for a day and it's considered abandoned? If it was sitting there for 3 weeks or something, sure tow it, but one day?

      I actually agree with the guy it shouldn't have been towed, it shouldn't have been impounded, and it damn sure shouldn't have been crushed.

      Seems more and more constitutional rights such as free speech, right to own guns, and all sorts of other freedoms are being eroded just because there are people that can't accept people different than themselves.
        • 6 Years Ago
        i agree completly

        the police should not have the right to steal your car because they dont like the paint job

        i hope the judge makes an example of that police department and this guys is awarded some obscene amount
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is all just stupid. The sololution?

      Slap the Star of Dale on them all and send them to the gas chamber.

      I'm horrible.
        • 6 Years Ago
        What's a "Star of Dale?" Maybe having an idea what you're talking about would be your "sololution."
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm all for limiting hate speech's forums, but not by crushing cars for "abandonment." That's too much of a stretch. When you skirt the law, it will come back to bite you in the ass. This sheriff will learn that the hard way on this one.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The fact that the official was Jewish doesn't seem like an "Oh by the way" type of factoid in the case.
      Who the heck uses this symbol in protest? Oh, sure, see that all the time. If it stands for "peace" how could it be a statement AGAINST Pipken?

      Puh-lease.

      Now, that doesn't mean he doesn't have the right to do whatever he wants to his car. I would also say it looks a lot more like someone graffiti-ed the car rather than abandoned it. Unless of course the van in question was a POS, as most cars that you'd gladly deface to make a point might be.
      • 6 Years Ago
      You have the right to free speech, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody's feelings.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I dont recall that qualifier being in the rule book anywhere.


        All I remember growing up is that what I say says more about me than it does about you. And that your response says more about you than it does about what I said.


        • 6 Years Ago
        Geo,

        I'm pretty sure Frank was being facetious in case you missed it. Americans seem to be sarcasm impaired in general.
        • 6 Years Ago
        you have rights until a cop decides you shouldn't
        that is how it works in the real world
        every once in a while a judge disagrees
      • 6 Years Ago
      This guy was very tactful in his wording / images on his car where it's definitely not "hate speech"... he said "Vote for xyz" not "Kill the jews" or something like that...

      The county is going to have to at least pay him for the car but I'm sure he'll end up getting more since he seems to already be saying that his 1st amendment rights were suppressed... seems that cop was a d-wad for marking a car parked legally for 1 day as abandoned, then crushing it... obviously he didn't agree with the message on the car...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Read the original article.

      Day 1: car ticketed
      Day 3: car impounded
      Months later: car crushed after owner refused to claim it from the impound

      This is the case of a stubborn man not paying a fine for a POS grafitti-ed car that looked abandoned.

      Case closed
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