City of Miami Beach Settles False Arrest Case with Marijuana Rights Activist

A staple joke from late night comedians, going back to George Carlin in the 1970s, is about how cannabis law reformers are too stoned to gather signatures and turn them in, when, ironically, or not, it is usually agents of the government who more often than not interfere with the democratic process of citizens gathering signatures in public to petition their government for grievance.

A case example from a local effort in Miami Beach to reform the city’s cannabis laws has resulted in NORML-affiliated lawyers procuring a monetary settlement with the city, that now, almost karmically, will help fund a cannabis reformer’s further advocacy.

From the law firm of NORML board member Norman Kent of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida:

The City of Miami Beach has agreed to pay a monetary settlement to marijuana rights activist, C.D. Flash, for damages he suffered during a false arrest in October, 2010.  The settlement was paid as Mr. Flash was preparing to file suit claiming that his arrest was a direct violation of his First Amendment right to engage in political petitioning in public spaces.

Mr. Flash was collecting signatures for a marijuana decriminalization petition on the Lincoln Road mall when he was stopped by Miami Beach Code Enforcement and Police officers, who incorrectly informed him that he needed a permit to collect signatures.

When Mr. Flash asserted that he had the constitutional right to collect signatures in public, he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct.  Mr. Flash maintains that he was never disorderly and complied with the requests of the police, but that he insisted upon exercising his right to remain and gather petition signatures.

Mr. Flash was jailed for 24 hours a result of his arrest and was required to face the charges in court.  On January 12, 2011, Mr. Flash appeared in court with his attorney, Russell Cormican, only to have the State dismiss all charges moments before the case was called for trial.  The prosecutor indicated that the arresting officer, John Pereira, no longer had any recollection of the arrest, despite the fact that it had occurred less than 90 days earlier.  Officer Pereira has a long history of disciplinary issues, with numerous internal affairs complaints, including one filed by the sister of singer, Beyonce Knowles.

“Mr. Flash was clearly targeted for arrest based on the fact that his political beliefs were unpopular with police officers” said Mr. Cormican, attorney for Mr. Flash.  “It is very encouraging to see the City of Miami Beach offering to quickly settle this case and acknowledge the right of individuals to engage in peaceful political expression, no matter what their viewpoint is.”

Mr. Flash was working in conjunction with the Committee for Sensible Marijuana Policy (CSMP) and was gathering petition signatures for a ballot initiative that seeks to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.  The initiative would allow police officers to give offenders a citation in lieu arresting them if the possession was for less than 20 grams. The violation could then be satisfied with the payment of a $100.00 fine.  Mr. Flash intends to utilize the proceeds from his settlement to continue working for the reform of marijuana laws.

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Mr. Cormican, and his law partner, Norm Kent, have set up CAFA, Citizens Against False Arrest, to redress grievances of citizens who are illegally prosecuted or arrested while exercising their constitutional rights of free speech.


12 thoughts

  1. So what we have here is yet ANOTHER piece of shit cop high on testosterone picking on an easy target, a non violent protester.

    par for the course………………….

  2. And to think, I used to want to be a police officer. That is, until I realized that in order to “make it” in the profession, I would have to turn myself into lying piece of shit.

  3. When will our govt answer for their gross negligence for all their crimes against it’s own citizens?

  4. When will our govt answer for their gross negligence for all their crimes against it’s own citizens? do they know what their real job is and when the last time they performed that job?

  5. What I’d like to know is why this cop still has a job, especially since he has a history of disciplinary issues. You’d think cops should know local ordinances and the FREAKING Constitution. Any cop arresting a citizen for exercising their rights should be fired, ASAP, period, and never allowed to work in law enforcement anywhere, ever again. No tenure or union bullshit, there are NO excuses for this whatsoever.

  6. My girl friend where walking down the road to work and got stopped @ 6;30 AM. In front of the police station and court house and she got the shit beat out of her for asking why we where being harassed for walking to work and she is still in jail and that happened April 5th 2012. we live in Lexington, SC.-Lettery Gallo-

  7. Sounds about right for lexington cops. Hope your girl comes out alright. Our thoughts are with you from gaston sc.

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