Man Arrested for Selling 2 Live Crew Album : The law: Florida store owner is the first to openly defy ruling that makes it illegal to sell ‘obscene’ records.
A Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., record store owner was arrested Friday morning for selling a copy of a sexually explicit rap album that a federal judge declared obscene earlier this week.
E.C. Records store owner Charles Freeman, 32, was led away in handcuffs by six Broward County police officers after selling a copy of the Miami-based 2 Live Crew’s “As Nasty as They Wanna Be” album.
Freeman is the first retailer in Southern Florida to be arrested for selling the album since U.S. District Judge Jose Gonzalez ruled on Wednesday that the album is obscene, making it illegal for retailers to sell the record in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Under Florida law, it is a first-degree misdemeanor to sell obscene material to adults. If convicted, Freeman faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Freeman has defied police warnings to stop selling the album in his small record shop since March. He told The Times on Wednesday that regardless of the judge’s ruling, he had no intention of taking the record off the shelf.
“How can they arrest me for selling 2 Live Crew and not arrest me for selling (raunchy comedian) Andrew Dice Clay or (rap group) N.W.A.?” Freeman said.
According to store employees, Freeman expected to be arrested. Local news media were alerted and had gathered for days in front of his store awaiting the arrival of police.
Sheriff’s Dept. spokesman Jim Leljedal gave this description of the arrest to United Press International:
“An undercover deputy went to the store, went inside and found Mr. Freeman being interviewed by two television stations. Without identifying himself as a deputy sheriff, he went and picked up an album and a cassette of the recording, ‘As Nasty As They Wanna Be,’ and paid $8.89, plus tax,” he said.
“After he made the purchase, the television reporters wanted to interview him and Freeman tried to persuade him to speak up and side with him. He declined to comment. He then went to the door and signaled to other deputies who were waiting outside,” Leljedal said.
After handcuffing Freeman, officers waited 20 minutes for Broward County Sheriff Nick Navarro to appear on the scene.
In a telephone interview following the arrest, Navarro said he believed Freeman had personally engaged him by stating that he was going to continue to sell the album in Broward County even though the judge had ruled the record was obscene.
“Mr. Freeman went on television and let the whole world know that he was going to be defiant of the law. He said ‘I’m here, I’m going to defy the law, come and get me.’ So we obliged him by arresting him this morning.”
Before being taken to jail, Freeman told a television crew that he felt his rights had been violated.
“I’m not going for censorship. America is free,” he said. “As long as this is America and I’m not living in Cuba, I feel my rights have been violated.”
Freeman is the second person to be arrested in Florida for selling the album. In March, a 19-year-old record store salesclerk in Sarasota was arrested and charged with selling the record to an 11-year-old girl. The charges were later dropped.