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View Diary: Occupy Erick Erickson: "Watching A Hippie Protester Get Tased Just Makes My Day" (138 comments)

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  •  The protestor's tactical 'mistake' was trying to (6+ / 0-)

    walk away from an officer and move in a way which police will interpret as an attempt to evade his being detained or arrested.  To the average sympathizer, the man is understandably angry and confused over the apparently random targeting, and can't fathom why the police would be interested in arresting him. And whatever was the officer's initial motive was for approaching him to detain him, the man made his own situation worse, probably being emotionally 'fuled' by fellow protesters angrily trying to 'help' him and risked also being arrested as they demanded the officers stop their current arrest attempt.

    His behavior after the initial police contact is what started things escalating. Police may be able to claim this man's behavior and speech amounted to 'failure to comply with an officer's request', 'resisting arrest', 'failure to heed an officer's direction', etc.  The taser usage seems to us outrageous, given the number of officers visibly available to take him in with merely a firm hand--it sure doesn't seem like the situation warranted taser use to bystanders.  But we have to consider things from the point of view of the officers.  The police force policy may be to use a taser on an agitated person they feel is resisting to the degree another officer could be hurt in the attempt to detain him and cuff him and bring him in for questioning.  If there is a policy on the books regarding taser use on people who are argumentative and seeking to evade an officer, even if this situation seems grey at the outset, my guess is there's a high likelihood any reviews of this would likely go in favor of the officers.

    I thought it quite curious that it was the smallest female officer who used the Taser--have to wonder if that was to elicit judicial sympathy on the behalf of the officers.  

    If you review the video objectively, this man basically required police to take on the risk of using some physical force to get him to stop and accept being detained.  By his becoming visibly angry and emotionally argumentative over the unfairness of the situation, and walking away, even pushing away the arms of an arresting officer, the man basically required police to use immediate physical force take him down.  This is what the police can argue was not 'not being violent' and likely would be upheld in that judgment.  Even though at one point he raised his hands, he remained defiant and seemed to resist the officers taking down to and holding him on the ground.  Yelling that you are being non-violent and are not resisting doesn't seem credible to police if you aren't complying and passively accepting your arrest.  And this combination of words and behavior can be used against you in court.

    Responding calmly without argument and complying is a lot to ask of the average person who feels they've done nothing wrong and have wrongly been picked out as a law-breaker.  But that's exactly what the law expects regardless of one's innocence.  He should have calmly stayed put when first approached by a uniformed officer, accepted the cuffing. He rightfully could have been calmly asking, "What is the reason you are detaining me today?", "Do you have a legal charge you are making against me at this time?", "Am I free to go?", "When may I call my lawyer?"  Tactically, when officers target and decide to detain someone it's a decision they typically won't reverse, and the arrestee will be taken in, one way or another, for questioning at minimum, and if no real evidence is produced sufficient to substantiate a charge within 24 hours, release should be expected--and the lawyers should be the one insisting upon that.

    If officers approach and seek to detain you for questions, you need to stop whatever you're doing, drop anything you're holding, and comply, showing no defiance or resistance.  You still can affirm your 5th amendment rights to not incriminate yourself and your rights to have a lawyer present for questioning. You should calmly state that you will wait for a lawyer to be present before answering any of their questions, and that you do not give up and fully intend to assert 5th Amendment privilege until such point as legally advised to do so.  It is likely that refusing to give an officer your name will also be interpreted as resistance, so be careful to respond with just the legally minimum information and avoid any displays of emotion. If you resist the detention, you'll get charged with the 'disorderly conduct', and a few other citations for making their life more difficult, and ensuring you'll have court costs and bigger legal fees.

    Personally, I do support Occupy and the protesters, but I just wish people in Occupied areas at this point, months into the efforts, clearly understood what behavior leads to police feeling they have to take control and subdue someone before they risk being hurt or anyone becoming involved other than the detainee.  Whomever is providing legal aid to protesters really needs to review ground rules for arrest situations with protesters.  It shouldn't be a problem for a protester to ask friends to immediately contact a lawyer when an arrest appears immanent.  It is a problem for the Occupy movement that we have people who aren't yet savvy about what their behavior should be, what compliance looks like, when the police express their intention to detain and bring you in.

    If you want to explore a better model for how fellow protesters might act when seeing one of their own taken down and hauled away, consider what the students did last Fall, after the perverse and uncalled-for pepper spraying of non-violent passive protesters by a ham-handed officer.  The students (and some faculty) surrounded the scene, but all but avoided directly challenging or threatening the officers.  They didn't really resist the officers, but were visibly present and indicated they wanted a peaceful resolution. The officers felt they had no choice but to retreat while maintaining a military level of armed vigilance as they left, since they were viscerally unable to trust students' declarations of peaceful intent.  And please note that it didn't stop police from being used again and again upon the peaceful students in the following days, weeks and months.

    Exhibiting and expressing opposition needs to stop at the moment of police detention for arrest, no matter how much solidarity is being expressed around you and how loudly your friends around you are declaring your non-violence, peacefulness, and innocence.

    When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

    by antirove on Wed Feb 01, 2012 at 04:05:56 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  I don't dismiss the need for Occupiers to be (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sean X, ladyjames

      more circumspect and think through their responses with authorities.

      However, your comment here illustrates the point many in the #Occupy movement are making about police. About the authoritarian mentality accepted by way too many of us. Even if the protestor messed up by walking away, his verbal protests are only "resistance" in the minds of authoritarian types - in the imaginations of those who think any contrary word by a child towards a parent is "disrespect" and warrants "discipline". And they certainly don't justify the response by the OPD officers.

      Was it "resistance" when the gentleman famously pleaded "don't tase me bro!" several years ago?

      Even though you may not intend to put it that way, this seems to justify the idea that actions taken by the cops are never to be questioned. You seem to have accepted the meme that civilians should be extra angelic in the face of law enforcement, but law enforcement should be given the benefit of the doubt. Why should civilians be held to an unreasonably higher standard than those who are paid and trained to protect public safety? I say it should be the other way around. Police officers should be held to a higher standard.

      We need to combat the idea of "contempt of cop" being an unwritten but quasi-official crime. If courts find officers in the right for using "resisting arrest" or "disorderly conduct" as an all-purpose justification for whatever they may do, then damnnit! We need to call that CW into question.

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Thu Feb 02, 2012 at 08:00:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I once watched police officers deal with (0+ / 0-)

        a guy displaying out of control behavior very similar to the man in this video. They surrounded him, starting with about five officers (thus protecting the public and maybe the guy too). By the time he was surrounded with a dozen or so officers--maybe about five long minutes--I guess he had tired himself out somewhat, and he was rational enough to see he had to submit. He did so calmly, was put in the back seat of a cruiser and off they went.

        Had there been a crowd of people around yelling at the cops and blowing whistles, maybe the cops would not have been so patient and wanted to get it over with before the situation possibly escalated. As it was, we watchers didn't approach (in an active shopping center parking lot) and watched from a distance.

        Here is a link to a longer version of this taser incident.

        We should remember too that the cops nowadays are victims of a decaying corrupt culture and various degrees of increasing paramilitary training.

        "...just ordinary people, you know, people who are not famous, if they get together, if they persist, if they defy the authorities, they can defeat the largest corporation in the world. - Howard Zinn

        by Sean X on Thu Feb 02, 2012 at 01:47:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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