Kitsap County, WA — Robin Hordon, 73, is an American citizen who is outspoken about his views on anti-militarism, feminism and environmental stewardship. He is known around town for holding signs to advocate these positions. However, in 2019, several constitutionally illiterate cops kidnapped him on the Fourth of July for holding his signs — a constitutionally-protected act — in a public park.
For the last two years, Hordon has been attempting to hold the cops accountable for what they did to him that day, and this month, he was successful.
On that day in 2019, Hordon was holding signs he calls “temporary free speech presentations” when deputies arrived to force him to leave. Knowing he was well within his constitutional rights to hold signs in a public park, Hordon refused to leave when police arrived.
To be clear, the signs did not contain profanity or anything remotely offensive. One side of the 6-foot sign read "Protect Democracy Vote," and the other side read "Save Earth."
Because he stood up for his First Amendment rights, deputies arrested him and threw him in a cage. His bail was set at $50,000 — in spite of the fact that he had no criminal record and the charges were for non-violent offenses.
Unable to pay the massive bail amount, Hordon was forced to spend the next night in jail before a judge released him on no bail. Police then "permanently banned" Hordon from the park.
While awaiting trial, Hordon returned to the park to take photographs in preparation for his defense and when deputies spotted him, they arrested him once more. Hordon was subsequently charged with three counts of second-degree criminal trespass.
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Likely realizing they had no legal case against Hordon, prosecutors eventually dropped all the charges and rescinded the "permanent ban" from the park.
This month, Kitsap County and the Port of Kingston paid Hordon a total of $400,000 — $250,000 from the county and $150,000 from the port — for the laundry list of constitutional rights violations over being twice jailed, held on “excessive” bail and “forever” banished from the park at the port.
As part of the lawsuit, the Kitsap County Sheriff's department will be forced to undergo "free speech training" and make policy changes to make sure they never infringe on someone's rights like this again. The county also agreed to changing the bail policy after setting such a disproportionately high bail for Hordon.
Hordon told the Kitsap Sun that he didn't think he would get any money from the lawsuit and only sued the county to get policies changed.
“I was standing up for making the Constitution work,” he said. “I refuse to give up my First Amendment rights. Then what happened after that is basically they dug their own financial hole," adding, “I’m not thinking ‘cha-ching.’”
Though the county did not admit wrongdoing, Hordon's attorney says the policy changes are pretty much exactly that.
“This is meaningful for him,” Hordon’s attorney, Joe Schaeffer said. “It goes beyond him and betters the system for everyone, quite frankly, including the police. For me personally, it is a rare case where we see significant, substantive policy change.”