Judge tosses lawsuit against City of Tallahassee over 'Abolish Police' sticker

A First Amendment lawsuit against the city has been dropped.

On Monday, Judge Allen Winsor of the Northern District Court of Florida dismissed a lawsuit that alleged the City of Tallahassee violated former Citizen Police Review Board member Taylor Biro's First Amendment rights when they removed her from the board.

"When Biro brought a cup with an antipolice expression on it to Review Board meetings, she spoke in a manner inconsistent with the City’s interest in maintaining an unbiased Review Board," Winsor wrote.

Background:City asks judge to dismiss Taylor Biro lawsuit, contending First Amendment relevance

Winsor cited Pickering v. Board of Education, a First Amendment right's case for public employees, and stated the case law favors the city.

In his decision, Winsor said Biro's cup with the "Abolish Police" sticker did not fulfill part of the Pickering four-part test which requires considering the "government’s interest in the effective and efficient fulfillment of its responsibilities to the public.”

Because the CPRB was established to enhance the trust of the Tallahassee Police Department and the community, "It should go without saying that having a Review Board member espouse an “abolish police” message could undermine that goal," Winsor wrote.

The controversy began at an October commission meeting when Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox said she was told that a member of the CPRB had a visible sticker that said "(expletive) the police," and said that anyone with bias on the police review board should be removed.

The Florida Police Benevolent Association, a statewide police union, published a press release days later calling for Biro be voted off the board.

At the next CPRB meeting, Biro had unanimous support from her fellow board members and numerous public speakers. The CPRB then sent out a press release notifying commissioners of their wish to keep Biro as a member.

However, she was removed in a 3-2 city commission vote on Dec. 7. Mayor John Dailey and commissioners Curtis Richardson and Williams-Cox voted in favor; commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter voted against Biro's ousting.

Since her removal, at least two other board members have resigned.

"We insult the people of Tallahassee every time we try to reduce this matter to a sticker on a cup," Biro told the Tallahassee Democrat. "This is a pattern with the City of Tallahassee; to ignore every day people to appease the powers to be. We see it with the firing of the HR director and we will see it again and again, until the people decide they have had enough."

Earlier this month, the city's HR director was fired a little more than a week after reporting by the Tallahassee Democrat showed she strongly cautioned city officials to fire a police officer who tested positive for drugs but that her advice was rejected.

The dismissal of Biro's lawsuit was two days before the city sent out a press release asking for applicants for the CPRB.

"The purpose of the board is to foster transparency, enhance communication and ensure a relationship of trust and respect between TPD and the community," the press release stated.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: City of Tallahassee lawsuit for 'Abolish Police' sticker dismissed