The ACLU alleges that city workers in Piedmont, Missouri, ripped out Tina Warren's water meter after she flipped off the mayor.
Hey, mayor. Sue you!
A Southeastern Missouri woman is taking her one-fingered battle against a small-town mayor to court, alleging he and other city officials have made her life a living hell ever since she began flipping him the bird on a regular basis.
In the federal complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Tina Warren claims that Piedmont Mayor William “Bill” Kirkpatrick had city workers yank out her water meter, ordered local cops to harass her and even persuaded outside law enforcement officers to execute a drug raid on her home — all because she's been giving him the middle finger every time they've passed each other for more than a year.
Image via City of Piedmont
Piedmont Mayor William Kirkpatrick uses city workers to retaliate against a woman who regularly flips him the bird, a lawsuit alleges.
Warren, who is joined in the suit by her adult son Bryan Jeffers, has been retaliated against for exercising her rights to free expression, according to the ACLU.
“They have been harassed repeatedly by government officials since Ms. Warren began expressing her disgust with the mayor by flipping him her middle finger,” the ACLU said in a statement.
The organization traces the feud back to April 2014 when the water went out for six days at the house Warren and Jeffers share. Warren was fed up. But when she stopped to question a few city workers, Kirkpatrick told her to get back in her car and “go down the fucking road,” she claims. “After this unpleasant encounter with Kirkpatrick, Warren decided that, as an act of protest toward Kirkpatrick, the Mayor of Piedmont, she would extend her middle finger and 'flip off' the mayor any time that she encountered him,” the complaint said.
Piedmont cops have since pulled her over for flipping off the mayor and ordered her off a city sidewalk when she tried to collect signatures in protest of rising water bills, she claims. Three weeks ago, the Wayne County Sheriff, two deputies and a state police narcotics officer searched her house in a fruitless hunt for drugs just hours after she had flipped off Kirkpatrick, her suit also alleges.
City workers pulled out her water meter on July 7. When she and Jeffers marched into City Hall to ask them why, one of the workers told her point blank “you flipped us off,” a video of the encounter shows. They eventually agreed to put it back in after a police officer intervened and Warren assured them she was flipping off the mayor, not them.
A woman who answered the phone on Tuesday at Piedmont City Hall said city officials would have no comment on the allegations. The city's attorney, Robert Ramshur, denied Kirkpatrick directed workers to remove the family's water meter.
“The mayor would never do that,” Ramshur told the Riverfront Times.
He attributes the animosity to Warren's failed protest against increasing water costs. Water bills went up across the board, Ramshur said, and Warren seems to have taken it personally. Service is also spotty in her area due to the shoddy work of a developer, he said.
“They may be attributing it to some kind of vendetta, but it's not,” Ramshur said.
The ACLU claims there is a clear pattern of harassment.
“Our constitution protects speech, which includes not only spoken words, but also gestures and actions,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Missouri. “Government officials need to develop thicker skins if a middle finger drives them to violate the constitution.”
We welcome tips and feedback. Email the writer at Doyle.Murphy@riverfronttimes.com