Police Officer is Ordered to Remove Anti-Kerry Sign
This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Sept. 30, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight -- a police officer in a suburb of Cleveland, Rob Breyley, is suing his own department and the city of North Royalton for violating his right to freedom of expression. Seems Officer Brayley was ordered by Chief Paul Braken to remove a sign from his private car that read "Veterans Against Kerry." Apparently, Chief Breyley did not order any officers to remove pro-Kerry signs, thus the controversy. Joining us now from Cleveland is Officer Breyley and his attorney Avery Friedman. All right, officer, I'll begin with you. You know, we've been trying to pin down if any pro-Kerry signs were visible in the parking lot where your ant-Kerry sign was. Were they? Did you see them? Did you take pictures of them?
ROB BREYLEY, OHIO POLICE OFFICER: Yes, Mr. O'REILLY, that is correct, Mr. O'REILLY. I have pictures of that.
O'REILLY: You have pictures of them. And what did the signs say?
BREYLEY: It said "Kerry-Edwards for a Stronger America."
O'REILLY: Now, when you told your boss that, hey, these guys are parking in the same city parking lot, they have pro-Kerry signs, I'm entitled to my anti-Kerry sign, what was the answer?
BREYLEY: The answer was that I was allowed to express my political beliefs and opinions at any time, so long as I wasn't on city property, as long as I was off-duty.
O'REILLY: Yeah, but you could say, hey, chief, look, they're doing the same thing, and you're not giving them any jazz. What's up? Did you say that?
BREYLEY: It was pretty evident the thing was sitting in the parking lot. I don't know why mine was singled out.
O'REILLY: But did you ask him is what I'm asking you, officer?
BREYLEY: Not specifically about that sign, no.
O'REILLY: OK. Now, counselor, that seems to be the root of this problem, right, is that you can't say to one city employee you can't have a sign in your car while somebody else has a sign as well, correct?
AVERY FRIEDMAN, ATTY. FOR OFFICER BREYLEY: Yeah, Bill, it doesn't make any sense. I mean, it's interesting, because if Rob would have come to us without that evidence, I'm sure if this case would have gone forward in the federal court. But what struck me was that when Officer Breyley walked in, he had photographs of the pro-Kerry signs on officers' cars in the parking lot, which had been there before his, and yet he's the one who's threatened with discipline, which could include discharge from the force... remove the sign.
O'REILLY: OK. We called the chief, and the chief gave us some gobbledygook statement about you can't have political statements on city property, which we understand. OK, we've got that.
FRIEDMAN: No, I don't get that.
O'REILLY: But counselor, did you ask him... say, "Hold it, you can't selectively enforce this law or this rule... if you're going to have a pro- Kerry sign, then you have to allow the anti-Kerry sign?" Did you, Counselor Friedman, ask him that?
FRIEDMAN: Well, what I had was the evidence. It doesn't matter what justification he was going to come up with. I had evidence that if you're a cop in that city, you were permitted to keep the Kerry-Edwards sign. And again, I don't care. I happen to be a Kerry guy, but this violates the constitution, because if you're going to let the Kerry cops put the signs up, then you better let the Bush cops put the signs up.
O'REILLY: Yeah, but what I don't understand from you guys is why didn't you... before filing the big federal lawsuit, why didn't you try to reason with the police chief? Now, maybe he's an unreasonable guy. He hasn't answered our question, so maybe that's the case.
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know what? He could have been here. He's not here.
FRIEDMAN: The bottom line is that if you're a patrol officer and your superior officer tells you what to do, all you can do is appeal it, and that's exactly what Mr. Breyley did. And the chief said it's got to go, and the mayor affirmed it. I think you invited the mayor too. She didn't show up. So the bottom line is there is no alternative. A federal judge is going to have a full trial, a full hearing on this thing in two weeks, so we're pretty excited about what's coming up. And Mr. Breyley's going to win this case.
O'REILLY: Well, yeah, I mean, you can't do selective rule... where did you serve, officer?
BREYLEY: I was a member of the United States Air Force for four years.
O'REILLY: And where were you based? Where did you serve?
BREYLEY: I served in a few different locations, had some temporary duty assignments. I served up in northern Maine. I did a one-year tour overseas in Korea. I also visited Japan, the Philippines, Okinawa, and finished out, out in California.
O'REILLY: OK, well, counselor, that just makes your case stronger, because obviously, the officer's a patriot, you know, he served his country.
FRIEDMAN: That's right, that's right.
O'REILLY: He's a law enforcement officer. If he wants to say he's against a political candidate... and you allow the other side, you have to allow that. All right, well...
FRIEDMAN: That's exactly...
O'REILLY: We say you win, and we appreciate you guys coming in. If the chief has something to say, well, we're willing to hear it. We'll check back with you in two weeks to see what happens.
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