INDIANA – A federal judge ruled that a man had his rights violated after a Jackson County library banned him for leaving an anti-Trump poem at its circulation desk.
According to court documents, 68-year-old Richard England was a frequent visitor of the Seymour branch of the Jackson County Public Library. Documents state England had a friendly relationship with library employees and he would talk with them on a regular basis during visits.
In November of 2020, England left a poem he had written “The Red Mean” that was critical of then-President Donald Trump at the library’s circulation desk for an employee who was not working that day. He instead dropped it into a basket on the desk which contained face masks, to share his political opinions.
Attorneys for England said the poem was “not vulgar, threatening, obscene or otherwise inappropriate.
After returning home, England had received a voicemail from the Seymour Police Department informing him of a lifetime ban from the library branch. The official said if he ever returned, he “would be arrested for criminal trespass.”
He spoke with the library’s circulation manager, who said to him, “we don’t do politics at the library,” according to court documents.
England said he had seen patrons wearing buttons with political messages and engaging in political conversation and felt there was no “adequate justification” for his ban.
The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit against the Jackson County Public Library on behalf of England, seeking for the ban to be lifted and to award proper relief and damages for England’s violated rights.
On March 31, 2022, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt with the United States District Court Southern District of Indiana ruled that England’s rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments were violated by the library’s permanent ban. She said the poem was a political hyperbole and posed no threat. She ordered England’s band from the library to be lifted and a declaratory judgment was ruled in England’s favor.