Meanwhile…

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As if the Atlanta police department didn't have enough PR problems…

Police say a British historian was handcuffed, thrown to the ground and jailed because he refused to obey a uniformed officer's order to use a crosswalk and wouldn't show identification.

The historian says he had no idea the upset young man was a police officer.

"Where I'm from, you don't associate young gentlemen in bomber jackets with the police. But he was extremely upset I had questioned his bona fides," said the historian, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, a professor at Tufts University in Massachusetts and expert on colonial history.

The officer was off-duty. Fernandez-Armesto says he didn't show ID because he'd left his green card in his hotel room. When he stammered when the officer demanded identification, the officer kicked his legs out from under him and threw him to the ground. Other officers soon converged, and held the man down to be handcuffed. He spent eight hours in jail before prosecutors dropped the charges.

Much more detail from the History News Network here.

The Atlanta Journal has the officer's story here .  Frankly, even if the officer's version of events is accurate, I don't think it reflects very well on him.  Fernandez-Armesto admits to jaywalking, but the officer seems to be saying he arrested the historian for disrespecting him.

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  1. Heh. When I was down at Dragon*Con in September, they had police stationed at that exact same place telling people not to jaywalk. I seem to remember that they were in uniform, but I might be wrong.

    In any case, you don’t arrest someone for jaywalking. It’s a piss-ant offense, one that deserves at most a five dollar ticket. And since when do you have to produce ID when asked on the street?

  2. Frankly, even if the officer’s version of events is accurate, I don’t think it reflects very well on him. Fernandez-Armesto admits to jaywalking, but the officer seems to be saying he arrested the historian for disrespecting him.

    I’m not much of a South Park afficionado, but “Respek mah authoritay!” comes to mind.

  3. Soon there will be enough for a class action. After that the taxpayers can have a sincere dialogue with the po po’s about tactics. Better late than never.

  4. He was arrested for disorderly conduct, not for jaywalking. I have a hard time taking sides here: having seen the interview with the scholar, I found him to be a total ass, and I can easily imagine him provoking the cop. Not that it does justify the way the cop handled the arrest, but it does reduce the scholar’s resemblance of moral superiority over the cops.

  5. Not that it does justify the way the cop handled the arrest, but it does reduce the scholar’s resemblance of moral superiority over the cops.

    Cops are authority figures. The only way to deserve authority is to never lose the moral high ground. Sinking to even the same level as the guy engaging in disorderly conduct calls into question whether the cop deserves to continue wielding authority.

  6. provoking the cop

    How many anger management classes does this policeman need b4 it becomes more economical to just bounce him off the force? Or would that cause a union problem?

  7. Sam,
    Because it is just so easy to sue police and municipalities.Not like they have sovereign immunity or anything.That is why smart trial lawyers stick with easy targets like fast food restaurants selling hot coffee.

  8. And since when do you have to produce ID when asked on the street?

    Provision of the PATRIOT Act? Afterall, they’re just looking out for our safety and health, right? (end sarcasm)

    Why does the cop even care? How many actual crimes were committed during this show of strength?

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Atlanta cops are all douchebags.

  9. It bugs me that cops demand people “respect” them because they’re cops. They’ll actually tell you that to your face. You just have to tell them that if they want your respect they should find a different line of work.

  10. I have never compared the number of suits against fast food makers to the number of suits against allegedly bad po po’s. I didn’t realize the fast food suits so outnumbered the police ones.

    Anyway, Justice Scalia said some ill-considered things in the Hudson case about whether the po po’s behave bad or not. He will be embarrassed by these new suits when they reach his court and the other justices start making fun of him. It will be interesting to see where immunity stands after that. I am hopeful. It’s not nice to fool with Justice Scalia.

  11. I have no sympathy for cops not in uniform. If you want to play Joe Friday, fine, wear a uniform or show your badge so everyone knows who you are. This historian may be an ass, most academics are, but being an ass is not a crime. If the cop had been in uniform and the guy had told him to screw off, then the cop should have written him a jaywalking ticket. If he didn’t have ID, then just walk back up to his room with him for him to get it. If he was totally uncooperateive, then maybe arrest the guy as a last resort. I can’t beleive that if the cop had been in uniform or showed his badge that the historian wouldn’t have knocked it off. All this shows is that Atlanta cops are assholes who think they can do anything they want with or without a badge.

  12. It’s been fun watching the coverage here (I’m a new ex-pat living near London.)

    From the morning news show: “In the US: you can own a Kalashnikov when you’re 17, but god help you if you jaywalk”

  13. I am looking at that picture and I see 8 pigs and a skinny wimpy looking asian guy in a suit. If it takes 8 pigs to deal with a skinny ass jaywalking attitudenal historian, then Atlanta PD deserves the mocking name of “pig” and are apparently quite incompetent.
    At least they didn’t shoot the guy, but that is probably only becasue they didn’t have enough time to get a judge to rubber stamp some lying informant’s affidavit.

  14. “From the morning news show: “In the US: you can own a Kalashnikov when you’re 17, but god help you if you jaywalk”

    Yeah, from a country that plans to send nanny’s out to foricibly teach parents how to raise their children and where people are rotting in prison for committing the crime of defending themsevles, that is rich. Tell the Brits and the fascist welfare queen BBC in particular to go hell.

  15. Cops are nothing more than baboons with guns. It’s all about dominance and submission.

  16. I have a suggestion. Let’s start boycotting these places. The city of Atlanta, Durham NC, and the whole state of Florida. Let’s hit where they hurt.

  17. “At what point can anyone say that I overreacted to the situation?”

    perhaps at the point when you refused to identify yourself?

    I recall being pulled over for an illegal u-turn once and the officer demanding to know where I was going. When I simply mentioned that it was of no concern to him, he became irate and DEMANDED to know?
    I’ve been given lectures about how I’m going to die on my bike because I accelerated too qucikly from a light. The list goes on and on….

    Just goes to show that police officers become police because of the power…..I mean really, how many libertarian popos do you really know?

  18. You get what you pay for like anything else. Pay for a jackass you get a jackass.

    Cops above the laws which they are to enforce, cops with bad childhoods of being bullied or being bullies themselves now state sponsored to continue being bullies or start to exact revenge for being bullied as youth.

    Face it the criteria for becoming a police officer is probably only slightly higher than that to become a Sanitation Engineer. Would you want your garbage man to change jobs to police officer tomorrow? I wouldn’t but in reality most have the same level of intelligence just cops have sharper uniforms and carry guns and can take away your freedoms even without having charged you for a crime.

    To me when a cop violates a law or simply overlooks individual citizens rights they should be held to account. If they are found guilty of having done things unlawful they should be given double the sentence of a ordinary civilian. If ignorance of the law is no excuse then they of all people should have no excuse. I do realize there are more laws than even the lawmakers know and that is a problem, however, cops going off simply because they are cops and know they will only be investigated by OTHER COPS what is their dis-incentive to doing these things? Not a damn thing!

  19. I was harrassed by one of those Atlanta Police douches last August about 2 blocks from where this historian was stopped. Apparently the rotten pork carcass was deeply personally offended that the fuel pump in my car was having a little trouble and hesitated a few times after the light turned green. By his analysis I have a ‘listening problem’ and an ‘attitude problem’ and I don’t act as a person of my education should (working on PhD in physics). So he chewed me for a few minutes. I was mesmerized by his jiggly jowls, so I didn’t listen to what he was saying. I mean, would anyone here say I have an attitude problem?

    I also live about a mile from where they murdered Kathryn Johnston, and drive by there fairly often, though not since the incident. It’s certainly the type of neighborhood where you would expect that police to shoot first and not bother to ask questions, but it’s also in the early stages of gentrification

  20. It sounds more like a Monty Python routine.

    I would suggest some mockery, but that might go down as “disrespecting police authority.”

  21. Ben,

    My wife was stopped by a cop on the way home from work in Atlanta because her headlight was out. She told him thank you that she didn’t know it was out and would get it fixed. The guy gave her a ticket anyway. She went to pay the ticket and the clerk told her she couldn’t because tickets for that are so rarely given their isn’t a set fine. She had to go to court, to which the cop didn’t show and get it thrown out. I think he just saw an attractive woman in a car and pulled her over in hopes of getting a phone number and gave her a ticket after he realized she was married. Just an all around dirtbag.

    I have no love for the bums in Atlanta, but I routinely see cops tackling them and beating on them for no apparent reason. It is disgracful. The entire Atlanta police force needs to be fired. I don’t think there is not a one of them that is worth the $0.50 it would take to buy the bullet to shoot them and I am a law and order Republican.

  22. Face it the criteria for becoming a police officer is probably only slightly higher than that to become a Sanitation Engineer. Would you want your garbage man to change jobs to police officer tomorrow?

    I dunno, most sanitation workers I’ve known seem like decent, hardworking folks. If only our police had such humble aspirations.

    I remember a case from Nevada a few years ago, but just what is the latest on being required to provide I.D. on request to police?

  23. John,

    I grew up in Decatur, which borders Atlanta. The cops there are NICE. I’ve been stopped there for pot, expired tags, speeding, driving erratically, no seatbelt, and none of the the police there were anything less than cordial. In atlanta they are a bunch of brutes with chips on their shoulder (or maybe monkeys on their backs…) I’m surprised your wife wasn’t cussed out and pushed around a little.

  24. “I remember a case from Nevada a few years ago, but just what is the latest on being required to provide I.D. on request to police?”

    There was a case out of Texas where the assholes arrested a woman in a car with her three kids because she had no form of ID. She was a suburban soccer mom who forgot her wallet and they arrested her. It went all the way to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court upheld her arrest. One of the worst decisions in the last 20 years. I forget the name of the case, but basically we live in a “paper’s please” nation now.

  25. Ben,

    Decateur is a lot richer than Atlanta. Not as many poor people to pick on, so I guess the cops have to be nice out there.

  26. “I’m surprised your wife wasn’t cussed out and pushed around a little.”

    Ben if she had been poor and shaby looking rather than clean and middle class looking, she probably would have been. Sad but true.

  27. I have no sympathy for cops not in uniform. If you want to play Joe Friday, fine, wear a uniform or show your badge so everyone knows who you are. This historian may be an ass, most academics are, but being an ass is not a crime. If the cop had been in uniform and the guy had told him to screw off, then the cop should have written him a jaywalking ticket.

    John,

    He was off duty but in uniform. Apparently he had a jacket on that may have covered his badge, so I think the professor thought he was a security guard, not a policeman. It sounds to me like he might have explicitly stated he was a cop, and the prof really did just ignore him, from reading between the lines of what the prof said and what the officer said.

    That said, I think that cops should spend a little more time trying to find non-violent solutions to problems before they go pinning people to the ground just for the power-trip of it. And the whole “you chose to go to jail” bit is bullshit. Refusing to comply with a policeman’s instructions should result in a clearly worded warning that ‘I am a policeman and I am going to give you a ticket, so I need you to show me some identification.’ That gives them a chance to stop and think, and calm down a bit. If you’ve got someone in a completely non-violent situation who isn’t cooperating, you need to give people some time to calm down and start complying before you break out the jack-bootery. Instead they tend to want to ‘show authority’ and so they keep wratcheting up the pressure, rather than trying to diffuse it. At best it’s poor training, but I really think it’s complacency and poor discipline.

    I get the feeling that the cop tackled him for being a ass, not because he felt it was necessary to preserve public order.

    The prof should be charged with disorderly conduct, but the cop should be suspended from duty for a day, or barred from moonlighting in uniform. You have to use some judgement, not just go tackling people because you feel ‘disrespected’.

  28. “That said, I think that cops should spend a little more time trying to find non-violent solutions to problems before they go pinning people to the ground just for the power-trip of it.”

    You are exactly right. The mentality used to be and should be that the cop is there to descalate the situation and find a peaceful resolution to it if one can be found. Now the mentality is “I am a cop, do what I say or I am going to take you down”, in other words cops seem to want to escalate rather than descalate. The cop should be fired, but thanks to police unions; fat chance.

  29. Just another spic from the point of view of the cop, probably.

  30. mikeos nails it. The cop just got unlucky in picking the wrong brownish cat to fuck with. (Although he was stupid not to properly factor in the location, manner of dress, time of day, etc.)

    The quick mental triage that many LEOs go through to figure out how much of their damaged id to release in a particular situation is:

    If he’s black or brown, take him down.
    If he’s yellow, stay mellow.
    If he’s white, tread light.

    Regional variations may apply.

  31. He then asked him if he was hearing impaired.

    A clumsy attempt to spin “Are you fuckin’ deaf?”

  32. They give tickets for jaywalking? WTF?? I’d love to see them try that here in NYC. I can judge for myself when it’s safe to cross the street, thank you very much.

  33. Rhywun

    Think of all the damage you will do to that poor guy’s Porsche when he hits you. 😉

  34. Think of all the damage you will do to that poor guy’s Porsche when he hits you.

    My bank account will thank me.

  35. Too many Barney Fifes. Not enough Andy Taylors.

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