The ACLU of Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit on June 5, 2013, on behalf of Alexine Fleck, a professor at the Community College of Philadelphia who was arrested and handcuffed for three hours for observing a police officer.

In September 2014, Ms. Fleck agreed to dismiss the city of Philadelphia as a defendant. On January 22, 2015, the district court denied the defendant’s motion for partial summary judgment, allowing all of Alexine Fleck’s claims to move forward to trial. The court reaffirmed that there is a clearly established First Amendment right to peacefully observe -- and even criticize -- police performing their duties in public, noting that such conduct “has strong social value, serving as a valuable check on state power[.]” In May 2015, the case settled.

This lawsuit is part of a series aimed at stopping Philadelphia police officers' unlawful practice of arresting citizens in retaliation for observing the police performing their duties. To learn more about other police practice cases, visit

Press Releases


Molly Tack-Hooper & Mary Catherine Roper (ACLU-PA); John Grogan & Peter Leckman (Langer, Grogan & Diver, P.C.); Jonathan Feinberg (Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, & Feinberg); & Seth Kreimer (University of Pennsylvania Law School)

Date filed

June 5, 2013


US District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania