BRUNSWICK, Ga. (CN) - A black minister says a Brunswick police officer threatened him with a Taser, forced him to the ground and arrested him on a bogus charge of demonstrating without a permit, because he told protesters who were calling President Obama a "granny killer" and a "liar" that he disagreed with them.
The protesters, some of them dressed in military garb, stood in front of the city's main post office on Aug. 26, 2009, according to the Rev. Zack Lyde's federal complaint.
They were "shouting or holding signs" stating they were "taking their country back" and "taking their flag back," in addition to calling the president a granny killer and a liar, Lyde says. Police officers were stationed near the permitted protest.
Lyde, a military veteran who had to pass the demonstration to get to the post office, said he felt "compelled to express a contrary viewpoint. He was the only individual expressing a contrary viewpoint and was not required to have a permit under Brunswick's permit ordinance."
The minister says an officer told him to be quiet and leave, because he had no permit. Lyde says he told the officer that he did not need a permit "to speak freely and without government interference on a public sidewalk."
He says the officer threatened him with the stun gun, and "unnecessarily and excessively forced [him] to the ground, arrested, cited, and jailed [him] for violating the City of Brunswick's 'disrupting a lawful meeting' ordinance."
Lyde says he contested the constitutionality of the ordinance, and the charges against him were dropped.
He seeks damages for constitutional violations, unlawful arrest and imprisonment, malicious threatening, and other charges.
He sued the City of Brunswick and Brunswick police Officer Philip Popwell.
Lyde is represented by Gerald Weber of Atlanta.
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