ANTIOCH, CA — A protest is planned in Antioch after the city’s police union president wrote slapping protesters who flip off police is “100% justified.”
According to the Mercury News, Cpl. Steve Aiello commented on a photo posted to Facebook showing a protester giving the middle finger to a police officer.
“I firmly believe an open hand slap in the face is 100% justified in this incident,” Aiello commented on the now-deleted post. “When a police officer is standing there doing nothing and a person is antagonizing them, why is that OK?”
When contacted by the Mercury News, Aiello said his comments were “taken out of context” although he did characterize the middle finger as “not peaceful” and “antagonist in nature.”
The courts have repeatedly ruled that the middle finger is protected by the First Amendment as free speech. Most recently, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of a woman who flipped off a police officer after he wrote her a speeding ticket. The officer then retaliated by pulling her over again.
“Any reasonable officer would know that a citizen who raises her middle finger engages in speech protected by the First Amendment,” the court wrote in its 2019 ruling.
Aiello’s comments have sparked outcry among Antioch residents, who are planning a protest at Antioch City Park Wednesday at 3 p.m. The organizers are demanding that Aiello step down.