Woman awarded $1.12 million after police strip-searched her to ‘make example’ of gun-owning ‘right wingers’
A Long Island, New York, mother of three has been awarded $1.12 million by a federal jury after she was falsely arrested while taking pictures at an Air National Guard base in the Hamptons, with a legally owned AR-15 rifle and ammunition in the trunk of her car.
Nancy Genovese, 58, said she was taking photos for a “Support Our Troops” website when she was detained and arrested by Suffolk County authorities, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported.
“What they took from this woman cannot be measured in money,” prominent Long Island civil rights attorney Frederick Brewington told media, following a decision by a federal jury. “There is no reason to treat another human the way they treated her.”
He went on to say that Suffolk County deputies humiliated her after arresting her in July 2009 while she took photos of a military helicopter on display outside the Gabreski Airport Air National Guard base in Westhampton Beach on eastern Long Island.
One of the deputies allegedly said she was going to be arrested for terrorism so she could be made an example of to other “right wingers,” Brewington asserted.
“Teabagger,“ “right winger“
“Ms. Genovese was subjected to a level of abuse because they did not share the same political views as she did and saw this as an excuse to deny her even the most basic civil rights,” said Brewington.
After her arrest, Genovese filed suit against Suffolk County, the Sheriff’s department and other parties for wrongful actions. She claimed in her suit that she was only arrested because she belonged to the Tea Party movement, which essentially advocates for smaller government and fewer taxes.
When arrested, she was charged with criminal trespass and spent four days in jail before being released with no charges filed.
As further reported by The New York Post:
Southhampton cops searched her and found a legally owned rifle that she was transporting from a nearby rifle range. She contends a deputy sheriff arrived on the scene later and said to her, “I bet you are one of those Tea Party people.” When Genovese said she’s gone to Tea Party rallies, he allegedly said, “You’re a real right-winger, aren’t you?” and “You are a ‘Teabagger'” and then added that she’d be arrested for terrorism to make an example of other “right wingers.”
In a statement Genovese said she was “relieved” by the jury’s verdict, adding, “If this can happen to me, and officers can abuse their power like this, I can only imagine how other people who are not as fortunate as me have been treated.”
Death of constitutional rights
In a rather misleading opening paragraph, the Post said that when she was arrested, Genovese was “armed to the teeth with a licensed assault rifle in her car.” Again, the rifle was legally owned and the only weapon that reports said she had in her possession at the time — though a photo that accompanied the Post story showed an AR-15 and a shotgun and several boxes of ammunition for each.
There were also disparities in headlines; the Post‘s headline called Genovese a “Tea Party mom” while The Guardian‘s headline described her as a “New York woman.”
The Guardian also said the $1.12 million is for compensatory damages; the jury is currently considering punitive damages as well.
Increasingly, in post-constitutionalist America, certain speech, certain political views, and certain public attitudes are being tolerated less and less by authorities, by universities and by certain political factions — which is ironic, given the very clear protections recognized and outlined in the Constitutions’ very first amendment.
That a police officer would even use terms like “right winger” and “Teabagger,” and then tie those terms into acts of terrorism, is disturbing, to say the least.