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East Hartford man cited after holding sign warning drivers of DUI checkpoint ahead

EAST HARTFORD–An East Hartford man isn’t letting anyone, not even police, get in the way of him sharing his message. “I advocate for freedom,&...
michael picard

EAST HARTFORD--An East Hartford man isn't letting anyone, not even police, get in the way of him sharing his message.

"I advocate for freedom," said Michael Picard.

Picard has been cited for holding a sign that read: "Cops ahead. Keep Calm and Remain Silent."

He feels his rights were violated in a video he captured back on September 11, 2015. Picard says he was holding the sign near an on/off ramp to I-84 in West Hartford. (Warning: The video contains obscenities.)

Picard says after about an hour, State Police began asking questions and one trooper said, "It's illegal to take my picture," which State Police later told FOX 61 is not true.

Picard said, "The cop basically said to me, 'Put your hands up on the sign.' I said, 'What's wrong?' He said, 'You have a gun.' To which I replied, 'It's not illegal to have a gun.'"

Picard does have a license to carry and wasn't charged for having the gun, but he was cited for reckless use of a highway by a pedestrian and creating a public disturbance.

Picard and his attorney, Joseph Sastre, went to court last week and the fine was knocked down from $300 to $25, but they're still fighting it.

Sastre said, "They didn't like what he was doing, holding the sign, so they came up with a reason to interfere with what he was doing although he was protected by the First Amendment."

FOX 61 showed the video to State Police, and officers forwarded it on to internal affairs for review. (The video contains obscenities.)

In the meantime, troopers said people who were stopping at that checkpoint were telling police, "This man has a gun."

State Police also at that point said the trooper made a mistake in saying "It's illegal to take my picture."

The troopers further said that while they don't have a problem with him holding up the sign, they feel in that location he was putting himself and others in danger by standing near a traffic on/off ramp.

Picard says he looks forward to his day in court in late April.

"I'm not against catching drunk drivers, but I'm against the method of doing it, which is a DUI checkpoint," said Picard.