One Brave Man and His Civil Rights Battle Against Circuit City

Twenty-six-year-old Pittsburgh resident Michael Righi fancies himself a freedom fighter. His blog details his struggles against over-zealous police and unconstitutional laws. “I’m not interested in living my life smoothly,” he writes. But on a recent visit to the Brooklyn Circuit City, Righi realized just how much Clevelanders don’t give a shit. On his way out, a store manager approached and asked to see Righi’s receipt. It’s a common practice retailers use to combat shoplifting, and most customers are happy to take two seconds to oblige. But not Righi. First they’re checking your receipt. Next thing you know they’ll be surgically inserting a GPS-tracking microchip into your brain. “It creates an atmosphere of obedience, which is a dangerous thing,” he writes. So Righi decided to stand up for liberty, much like Rosa Parks and that monk who set himself on fire. “I played dumb and pretended I didn’t know what the problem was,” he writes. Yet the manager was undeterred by Righi’s bold stand. He followed Righi to his dad’s Buick. “Back away from the car,” Righi warned. But the manager stood firm. Left with no other choice -- other than to open his bag and spare his family the humiliation; his brother and sister were crying in the car -- Righi dialed 9-1-1 on his cell phone. Surely there was no greater emergency happening than the very paper our constitution was written on being graffitied by the Circuit City Gestapo. Little did Righi know, however, that Brooklyn Police are part of the New World Order. When Officer Ernie Arroyo arrived on scene, he kindly asked to see Righi’s driver’s license – which, incidentally, is a flagrant violation of civil rights law and like every Rage Against the Machine Song ever written. Righi refused. Minutes later, Righi was in handcuffs. He’ll appear in court this month for obstructing official business. After blogging about his adventure, Righi received over $3,000 in defense funds and double the usual e-mails, not all complimentary. One man, familiar with what we’ll call “America,” said; “I don’t understand why you had to make a big deal, they do this to make sure thieves don’t steal their expensive equipment. Jesus, it’s 10 seconds of your time, and you get the feeling of being a good citizen after they thank you and bid you good day afterward.” Still, Righi defends his stance. “I hope that my story has made some people think twice about giving up their rights to businesses and law enforcement alike,” he wrote. “There’s other things my officer can be doing than debating the constitutionality of whether a store can check a receipt,” says Deputy Chief Scott Mielke. As for Righi, the battle is just beginning. “I’ve dealt with these scare tactics at other stores in the past, including other Circuit Cities, Best Buys and Guitar Centers,” he writes. Now he’s bracing for the biggest battle yet: Famous Footwear. – Jared Klaus

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