Monday 26 October 2020

I Fought the Law


by Henry Lewi

 ice cold cola

As he drove on the I-985 towards Atlanta he thought how his road trip to New Orleans had been delayed by a couple of days and he started humming his own version of “I fought the law and I won”.

It had all started simply with him having left New York far behind four days ago. The plan was to drive his car down from New York to his new home in the Warehouse district in the “Big Easy”. The old 911 had purred along nicely and he’d taken his time on the trip, discovering parts of the US he’d be unlikely to ever visit. He was not due to start his new job as a Professor in Surgery at the University Medical Centre for another month, so time was not pressing.

He’d arrived in Gainesville, Georgia, intending to stop over for a couple of days and hire a boat to do a day’s sailing on Lake Lanier, before heading further south. He’d booked a couple of nights at the Hampton Inn and had wandered along to the concierge’s recommendation of the “Best Chicken Inn in Town”. Over 50 years ago Gainesville had proudly proclaimed itself the “Poultry Capital of The World” and this particular restaurant was claimed to be the best in town. He’d ordered the House Special and a selection of sides and picking up his knife and fork he settled down to eat his huge plateful of fried chicken. He’d had eaten his meal with relish, but as he’d finished his plate of fried chicken, he noticed that the restaurant had gone quiet and standing opposite him was a tall deputy sheriff wearing mirrored sunglasses who looking at him said, “Sir, please stand up and turn around, I’m arresting you for violation of the City Ordinance of the15th of January 1961.”

Speechless, he’d meekly obeyed and felt the handcuffs being applied, all he could think, was that he’d violated some local traffic ordinance and this could be easily dealt with.
He’d been taken to Hall County Jail, where he’d been photographed, processed and placed in a cell by himself. The deputy sheriff informed him that he’d be appearing before the judge the next day when a trial date would be set, and if necessary, a court appointed attorney would be made available, if he wished. He’d been allowed to call his brother who was an attorney in Manhattan, and he’d agreed to fly down first thing in time for his court appearance.

The following afternoon he’d appeared before the judge, when his brother had argued that his arrest had violated his First Amendment Rights which included the “Freedom of Expression.” As expected, the case was dismissed, and he’d been allowed to go free. His brother disappointedly stated that he wished the case had gone further as he’d loved to have taken it all the way to the Supreme Court.

After all a city ordinance dating from 15th January 1961which made it “illegal to eat fried chicken in Gainesville with a knife and fork” really should be repealed.


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