Apparently it’s a crime to play Malcolm X speeches in Garner, North Carolina, as one local activist discovered when nearly a dozen police officers raided her home and charged her with a noise violation after a white neighbor complained that the words of the human rights activist was hate speech.
A search warrant of Mikisa Thompson’s home was issued by the Garner Police Department after she played “amplified speech being projected by some sound amplification device.”
Although the raid went down on may 16, the incident in question occurred last month.
They seized several electronic devices from her home, including a MacBook, an HP laptop, a computer monitor, seven iPhones and computer speakers, according to Indy Week.
Don Barnette, Thompson’s neighbor, first called 911 to complain about her playing “loud Islamic-Muslim preaching” on April 22.
At the time, officers responded by seizing her stereo and issuing her a $50 fine, the report states.
They returned late night on May 16, after the neighbor complained that the mother continued to play the Malcolm X speeches in the early morning hours – which she denies.
One of her children broadcast part of the raid on Twitter.
The activist was charged with violating Garner’s noise ordinance, a misdemeanor which carries a maximum fine of $500.
“Doing a midnight raid with nine officers—over a noise ordinance, of all things—is a disproportionate show of force that shows there’s something else at play,” T. Greg Doucette, Ms Thompson’s lawyer, said.
“That’s the type of overkill that’s intentionally designed to terrorize and punish people, not to actually do what’s necessary for enforcing the case.”
Garner’s noise ordinance prohibits “the playing of any radio, phonograph, television set, record player, sound reproduction device or any musical instrument in such a manner…as to annoy or disturb the quiet, comfort or repose” of others between 11pm and 7am, the UK Independent reports.
“Our officers did everything that they could at the time to try and bring a peaceful conclusion to this issue before seizing the speaker,” Joe Binns, captain of Garner Police, said.
“First, we warned Ms. Thompson and asked her to turn it down. When she refused and received a second complaint, we issued her a citation for violation of the ordinance,” he added.
“And finally, when she continued the loud and unreasonable noise, a search warrant was obtained and the speaker was seized.”
“While I cannot make an inference as to whether Mr. Barnette took issue with the content of the noise, our officers were only concerned about how loud the noise was and the fact that we had a valid noise complaint from a neighbour.”
Meanwhile, Barnette claims he is not racist. “I don’t have anything against any black person that acts like they’ve got sense,” he said.
He added that he and his family felt like victims “of a hate crime.”
Thompson must appear in court on June 24.