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ACLU sues Indianapolis police over car sticker

– An Indiana woman intended her bumper sticker reading “Unmarked Police Car” as a joke, but two police officers didn’t think it was funny. Now, they’re being sued in federal court for allegedly violating the woman’s free speech rights, and officials aren’t laughing.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the lawsuit last week on behalf of 56-year-old Pamela Konchinsky of Franklin.

The complaint says Konchinsky was followed by two squad cars when she pulled into a parking garage near the mall where she works in downtown Indianapolis. The first car had its lights flashing. Konchinsky knew she hadn’t violated any traffic laws.

The officers told her to remain in her minivan after asking for her license and registration, then scolded her for the sticker taped in the rear window of her minivan. One of the officers warned her during the June 17 stop that someone would think she was impersonating a police officer and that someone might shoot at her, believing her to be an officer.

Bumper stickers proclaiming “Unmarked Police Car” sell for $2.50 online. Konchinsky, the mother of one adult and one school-age child, had received the sticker as a gift from a friend and taped it to the inside of her minivan’s rear window about seven months ago.

“It’s a joke – it’s ironic,” Kelly Eskew, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, told the Indianapolis Star. “It’s like you or I wearing a T-shirt that says, ‘Undercover Cop.’ ”

But the officers took the issue seriously and didn’t let Konchinsky leave until she had removed the sticker from the window. She didn’t receive a citation, but the fuss made her late for work and her pay was docked as a result.

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