It was 9:30 on a recent Friday night when Denise Grier saw blue lights in her rearview mirror.
“The officer asked if I knew I had a lewd decal on my car and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, what did my kids put on my car?’ “
As it turns out, the decal was an anti-Bush bumper sticker Grier slapped on her 2001 Chrysler Sebring last summer. The bumper sticker — “I’m Tired Of All The BUSH—” — contains an expletive.
The officer “said DeKalb had an ordinance about lewd decals and wrote me a ticket” for $100, said Grier, an oncology nurse at Emory University Hospital who lives in Athens.
Grier said she thanked the officer — and vowed to see him in court.
“This is all about free speech,” Grier said in a telephone interview Monday. “The officer pulled me over because he didn’t agree with my politics. That’s what this is about, not whether I support Bush, not because of the war in Iraq, but about my right to free speech.”
Officer Herschel Grangent Jr., a spokesman for the DeKalb County Police Department, confirmed the incident Monday but said he couldn’t “speculate on or discuss another officer’s decision to write a citation.”
Grangent said he not know of any ordinance dealing strictly with bumper stickers but noted the county’s sign ordinance prohibits public displays that “contain words, pictures, or statements which are obscene.”
“Only that officer knows what his or her probable cause was, and only that officer can discuss it or testify to it,” Grangent said.
The officer’s name is not legible on a copy of the ticket Grier e-mailed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Grangent said he didn’t know who it was.
Grangent said he wasn’t sure how many people have been ticketed for lewd bumper stickers but considered it a rare occurrence.
Grier, 47, the mother of four grown sons, is due in Recorder’s Court on April 18. She has not removed the bumper sticker in question, or six other mostly politically oriented decals on her car. “I used to think that one person could not make a difference,” said Grier. “Now I’m beginning to think one person can, and should. We shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for what we believe in.”
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