Iowa Man Sues Town Over Arrests for Criticizing Police

by | Oct 16, 2023 | News

In a classic standoff between citizen rights and law enforcement, a small Iowa town faces a lawsuit for arresting a resident who criticized its police department. Noah Petersen, now backed by the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice, alleges that the town of Newton violated his First, Fourth, and 14th Amendment rights following his remarks during public comment periods at City Council meetings. The federal lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Iowa, draws attention to the broader national dialogue on police accountability and citizens’ free speech rights.

RELATED: RFK Jr. Announces Independent Bid for 2024, Voicing Frustration Over Partisan Divide

The original report from Reason Magazine sheds light on this pressing issue resonating well beyond the small town of Newton, Iowa.

The case unfolded when Petersen voiced his concerns at an October 3, 2022, Newton City Council meeting, following the release of body cam footage showcasing an unjust arrest of a college football player by Newton officers. Despite staying within his three-minute speaking allotment, Petersen was ordered to stop speaking by the mayor. When Petersen resisted, he was arrested, an action reprised at a subsequent meeting when Petersen called the police chief and mayor fascists.

The lawsuit highlights the chilling effect such actions could have on public discourse and the critical role of free speech in holding law enforcement and public officials accountable. “Ironically, the actions of the police department have only proven my point,” Petersen remarked in a press release by the Institute for Justice. His ordeal illuminates the tension between citizens’ rights to criticize public officials and law enforcement’s tolerance for such criticism.

This lawsuit echoes a larger national narrative on the essential democratic principle of free speech, reflecting ongoing struggles between civic rights and law enforcement across the U.S. Petersen’s case, seeking compensatory and punitive damages alongside a judgment against Newton’s “derogatory comments” rule, stands as a testament to the enduring conflict between citizen rights and law enforcement actions.

NEXT: Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez Faces Accusations of Acting as Foreign Agent for Egypt

AMP America

Get Amp’d in your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter to get videos, articles, and more sent right to your inbox daily. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This