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Walking While Black
April 17, 2011 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Walking While Black is still more of a problem to the NYPD than Biking While White. [SLYT] This recent incident, caught on video, demonstrates in real time the ways that law enforcement frequently ignores enforcing the law in favor of teaching a lesson to the law-abiding smart aleck.

Of interest to me in the first link is when a woman (at 5:19) tells the other young man to go away so that he doesn't get hauled in either.

Ten years ago, Brian Bain brought racial profiling by the NYPD to the forefront of the nation's attention. The NYPD has frequently been criticized for specifically targeting minorities on the streets of New York.

A more recent study by the Center for Constitutional Rights indicates that stop-and-frisks in the subway stations of New York are based more on race than crime. Incarceration rates are still going up.

Police violence and profiling of minorities is so prevalent that black culture magazines even give advice on how to protect yourself from police brutality.

(Related MeFi post on incarceration rates by race in the U.S.).
posted by whimsicalnymph (217 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
As someone who occasionally bikes in NY, I was actually extremely surprised that you could actually get a ticket for biking across the sidewalk up to your apartment. Not that it was illegal, but that cops would be petty enough to enforce it in situations that were obviously not problematic. (Yeah, lay into me for that naivite.) I do it all the time, of course, as does (I suspect) just about everyone who owns a bike in the city.
posted by chasing at 9:04 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


While it's true that there are legitimate instances of profiling and brutality on the part of the police, harassing someone who is getting a ticket is a sure way to get the police up in your face. So as tempting as it is to mock the white boy in Bed Stuy, maybe wait until after the heat's gone.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:08 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The NYPD is an occupying army. They fucking suck. And I say that as a white guy, I can't even imagine if I was black in this city.
posted by nevercalm at 9:08 AM on April 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm not entirely sure I see how this is an example of profiling. The black guy wasn't exactly minding his own business -- he deliberately inserted himself into the incident, and when the cops got ticked off, he only escalated things by flashing his ID instead of handing it over and continuing to mouth off.

I know. I'm white. I don't get it (although I have lived in NYC). But this is not a great example for the thesis of the post.
posted by dhartung at 9:13 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


The officer who got annoyed that the guy on foot was being a smartass to the guy getting a ticket was black himself. It seems (the audio isn't so good) that he told him to get lost and the guy on foot started shouting at the cop ("I wasn't even talking to you!"). It's a bad idea to talk back to cops like that, and it's not immediately clear to me that this has anything to do with race, if for no other reason, as I said, than that the cop who got annoyed at this was himself black.
posted by Dasein at 9:15 AM on April 17, 2011


Is it weird that this made me miss New York so much I almost cried?

But anyway there's some incredible naivete on the part of the kids sitting up there filming this thing like they think that shit matters. Even if that cop had kicked the shit out of that guy instead of just hauling him in, and everyone in New York City saw the video, he'd get off with a slap on the wrist. That's how this works. That's the system.
posted by crackingdes at 9:20 AM on April 17, 2011


We teach our students (primarily african-american urban kids) how to code-switch.... you need to talk, act, look different in different situations... this is a good example of someone that hasn't learned that.

Don't get me wrong, this society sucks in that it is necessary to learn that skill, but not knowing how to deal with these situations is akin to not knowing how to hit the floor when you hear a gunshot... it doesn't matter if it's right or wrong, it's a matter of survival.
posted by tomswift at 9:21 AM on April 17, 2011 [10 favorites]




But anyway there's some incredible naivete on the part of the kids sitting up there filming this thing like they think that shit matters.

you think that 231k viewers watching police abuse their authority doesn't matter?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:25 AM on April 17, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm not entirely sure I see how this is an example of profiling. The black guy wasn't exactly minding his own business -- he deliberately inserted himself into the incident, and when the cops got ticked off, he only escalated things by flashing his ID instead of handing it over and continuing to mouth off.

I watched it and saw someone being deliberately intimidated and harassed by the police for making comments in an entirely safe situation (The police were issuing a ticket from their car and he was merely walking past). Why did the police need to see his ID? Because he spoke out of turn?

If a world where police can stop you, question you, and make you show them your documents for simply making passing comments to somebody else doesn't frighten you even without the racial angle then you are part of the problem.
posted by cyphill at 9:26 AM on April 17, 2011 [112 favorites]


20 years ago, many majority-black neighborhoods in New York were practically free-fire zones. In no small part thanks to the NYPD the least safe of those neighborhoods today are Edens compared to their late-80s/early 90s version. Given the change in the homicide rate, you can argue that the NYPD has saved the lives of literally thousands of black men. Judged by the complexions and nametag surnames I see, the younger cohort of NYPD cops is extraordinarily diverse, too.
posted by MattD at 9:27 AM on April 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


NYPD officer, resigns, is found guilty of falsifying criminal complaint. Video matters, even if it might not in this case.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:27 AM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


"I'm not entirely sure I see how this is an example of profiling. The black guy wasn't exactly minding his own business -- he deliberately inserted himself into the incident, and when the cops got ticked off, he only escalated things by flashing his ID instead of handing it over and continuing to mouth off."

The problem is that the cops had no right to see his ID or his papers, and mouthing off to them is a cherished public duty, not a crime. He was arrested for Walking While Black.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:27 AM on April 17, 2011 [35 favorites]


Bullshit post, who cares? EVERY law enforcement agency has shitty cops, and NYPD is no different but c'mon NYPD can't even hold a candle to LAPD. I think our cops do a great job and being a cop is really tough. For every video that shows an asshole cop dealing with someone, there are thousands of unfilmed scenes where cops have to deal with REAL assholes. People who instigate and provoke and/or cause violence. For example, there usually aren't any convenient iPhone videos shot by annoying white people of cops being shot.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh waaah. The cops can't handle someone being non-violently, non-threateningly mouthy then THEY SHOULDN'T GET TO BE COPS. When the police are mainly concerned with making sure someone is nice to the police, there's a problem.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2011 [54 favorites]


Some thugs wear badges.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


Dasein: “The officer who got annoyed that the guy on foot was being a smartass to the guy getting a ticket was black himself.”

Unfortunately, that is absolutely no indication that this isn't racial profiling.
posted by koeselitz at 9:29 AM on April 17, 2011 [23 favorites]


But this is not a great example for the thesis of the post.

Hmm, maybe not. I agree that the video isn't damning in that the guy wasn't 'just walking along minding his own business' while black. But mouthing off is not a crime, and the police response was out of proportion. They didn't bother to get out of the vehicle for the guy on the bike who committed an actual infraction. Guy mouths off on the way by, doors open up and the call for backup goes out. I see some difference there.

On preview, what cyphill said.
posted by Casimir at 9:30 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


The black guy wasn't exactly minding his own business -- he deliberately inserted himself into the incident, and when the cops got ticked off, he only escalated things by flashing his ID instead of handing it over and continuing to mouth off.

The officer who got annoyed that the guy on foot was being a smartass to the guy getting a ticket was black himself. It seems (the audio isn't so good) that he told him to get lost and the guy on foot started shouting at the cop ("I wasn't even talking to you!"). It's a bad idea to talk back to cops like that, and it's not immediately clear to me that this has anything to do with race, if for no other reason, as I said, than that the cop who got annoyed at this was himself black.


I know that you mean well. That we have to learn to live in the world we find ourselves. But I must admit that I find these views to be very similar to the comments people make about women asking for rape when they dress sexy, and I don't think we should just be okay with police officers using their authority to harass law abiding citizens, just as we should not be okay with strong dudes using their strength to harass women.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:30 AM on April 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


It took me a bit to figure out what's going on, here's a bit of a transcript:

Guy on bike apparently getting a citation for riding his bike on the sidewalk.
Camerman, "My nigger went to Princeton and they copping his ID. My boy is on a bike."
Funny black guy, "(garbled) on a sidwealk huh? Man you a grown man you know that's against the law."
Bike guy, "I just got my training wheels off, I'm still afraid of the streets."
FBG, "You should back them back on them."
Cop in van, "(yells something at FBG)"
FBG, "You talking about me? No one talking about you."
Cop, "Mind your own business."

At this point like 3 cops get of the van and start harassing the funny black guy, who does pretty much everything in his power to make the situation worse.

So many questions left unanswered. Why does a Princeton grad on a bike live in Bed Stuy? What did they arrest the funny black guy under? Obstructing justice? Doesn't the NYPD put an arrest report online? Also isn't it illegal to videotape cops?
posted by geoff. at 9:31 AM on April 17, 2011


The single best thing to do is offer no resistance, be over-the-top polite, and do everything they say. Police are all about having the power and control, and 98% of the time, giving it to them has gotten me out of situations even when I was breaking the law. If you challenge, they push back, and you are in a no-win situation.
posted by nevercalm at 9:32 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


pyramid termite, I would like to think it does. But I really don't know. No one who lives in Brooklyn would be surprised by this. (Note how the people watching are laughing, rather than shocked and horrified.) For some reason people are resigned to police acting like this.

People were shocked and horrified when unarmed Sean Bell was shot 50 times by plainclothes police. This doesn't really compare. And those cops were still acquitted of any charges.
posted by crackingdes at 9:33 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also isn't it illegal to videotape cops?

In Massachusetts, yes I think so. In NYC they act like you knocked down the World Trade Center, but you're still allowed to do it.
posted by nevercalm at 9:33 AM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Why does a Princeton grad on a bike live in Bed Stuy?

Is this a real question?

Also isn't it illegal to videotape cops?

It's not illegal in New York, no, although it's not as if some cops wouldn't give you shit regardless.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:34 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why does a Princeton grad on a bike live in Bed Stuy?

Bed-Stuy (sadly) is on it's way to becoming the next Williamsburg.
posted by jonmc at 9:36 AM on April 17, 2011


You should be polite to cops for the same reason that you should be polite to bank robbers. That's just being practical when someone has the ability to wreck your life on a whim.

Not being polite, however, doesn't excuse abusive, thuggish behavior.
posted by empath at 9:37 AM on April 17, 2011 [29 favorites]


whimsicalnymph, the police come across in this video as thin-skinned, not as racist. It's a sad fact of life that talking shit to police, while not illegal, is never a good idea. I strongly disagree that saying that is in any way comparable to saying "She was asking for it." I'm not defending the cops, I'm saying that the guy on foot was an idiot, and this video isn't evidence of any particular behaviour that is not run-of-the-mill, however sad that is. I also don't think it's evidence of racial bias, as the poster frames it. It's evidence that cops like to show people who's in charge, and that if you want to avoid trouble then being a smartass around them and then refusing to comply with their instructions is not a good idea.
posted by Dasein at 9:38 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


"The single best thing to do is offer no resistance, be over-the-top polite, and do everything they say. Police are all about having the power and control, and 98% of the time, giving it to them has gotten me out of situations even when I was breaking the law. If you challenge, they push back, and you are in a no-win situation."

This is how democracy dies, the police only have the power we give them. The reason we have cops is so that we don't have to play nice to thugs.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:40 AM on April 17, 2011 [28 favorites]


Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don't let them take you ALIVE. ~ Sid Vicious
posted by Fizz at 9:42 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The police department, is like a crew, that does whatever they want to do.
posted by cashman at 9:43 AM on April 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


The black guy wasn't exactly minding his own business -- he deliberately inserted himself into the incident, and when the cops got ticked off, he only escalated things by flashing his ID instead of handing it over and continuing to mouth off.

"Not minding your own business" is not against the law.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:43 AM on April 17, 2011 [22 favorites]


If you see me pulled over and/or getting ticketed for something and you decide to start joking with me, you better be one really funny motherfucker because I'll probably be in a shitty mood. Some wise-ass stranger butting into my business is going to just piss me off even more. So much so that I probably won't mind seeing the cops giving you a little of the shit they were just giving me.
posted by klarck at 9:45 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


BEWARE THE MANNERS POLICE!
posted by molecicco at 9:48 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whether police become involved or not, there are few benefits to being a belligerent loudmouth who doesn't know how/when to turn it off.
posted by hermitosis at 9:49 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel sorry for real victims.
posted by clavdivs at 9:49 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dasein, I framed the post. It might not be EXTREME, in that no one got punched, shot, or killed, but this is not an isolated circumstance (which is what my other links tried to indicate; this happens all the time), and the disproportionate response seems absolutely indicative of systemic racism in how the NYPD treats New York citizens.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:51 AM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is it just me, or did the guy on the bike seem like he wasn't all that upset that he was being joked with by the guy walking? He seemed to be kind of going back and forth with him just fine, not in a contentious way, but in a standard stranger-to-stranger way.

Maybe it's just me, but the conversation wasn't unfamiliar to me at all - somebody you don't know has something to say and you go back and forth and it can end up with shit talking or just general laughter, you just don't know how it will progress.

The cops in this situation just seem like a lot of police officers who feel that enforcing their ego is part of the job. That you must appear to the public like such a menace, that it establishes authority.

I prefer those police officers who hold it inside. Who just have that presence as a police officer, and you can just tell through their demeanor and attitude that they are smarter, stronger and wiser than most. Those cops that make you want to high five them.

But the cop in this video is one of those people who have to outwardly show dominance at every turn, because to not do that, for him, is to not be in complete control. I hate those cops.
posted by cashman at 9:52 AM on April 17, 2011 [19 favorites]


Whether police become involved or not, there are few benefits to being a belligerent loudmouth who doesn't know how/when to turn it off.

He made a humorous comment to the cyclist, who took it in good turn. He wasn't being belligerent or, particularly, a loudmouth. And even if he was, so what? That deserves a police record? What's wrong with you people?
posted by Summer at 9:52 AM on April 17, 2011 [43 favorites]


the bottom line is the guy was walking away and the incident was kept open - and escalated - because the police chose to do so
posted by pyramid termite at 9:52 AM on April 17, 2011 [22 favorites]


Race has nothing to do with this.
posted by gjc at 9:53 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


We can run this town straight into the ground, while we rise to the top, there ain't no such thing as a dirty cop.
posted by ofthestrait at 9:55 AM on April 17, 2011


Christ, what power hungry assholes!
posted by ericb at 9:57 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


He made a humorous comment to the cyclist, who took it in good turn. He wasn't being belligerent or, particularly, a loudmouth.

But the very instant the cops started talking to him -- which, in my universe, is precisely the moment to fade into smoke -- he just kept ladling. It was like watching someone bailing out a boat in reverse, scooping water out of the sea and dumping it into their own boat. I'm as suspicious/fearful of the police as anyone, so IMO if someone doesn't have better urban survival skills than that, I don't know how on earth they expect to get by.
posted by hermitosis at 9:58 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I prefer those police officers who hold it inside. Who just have that presence as a police officer, and you can just tell through their demeanor and attitude that they are smarter, stronger and wiser than most. Those cops that make you want to high five them.

This.

I was in an anti-war march in Manhattan a few years back, thousands of people involved. Some yutz decides to climb a lampost and start screaming. One of two cops standing nearby just waved in a downward motion with his hat (while wearing a bored expression) and the yutz got down. Now you can ask the obvious question "What if he hadn't got down?" But it's a sign of his skill that the guy did.
posted by jonmc at 9:58 AM on April 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


I guess I really don't understand, genuinely, how people can watch this and not think that race had anything to do with this.

If a similar aged white dude joshed a similar aged white dude who was getting ticketed by the police for riding his bike on the sidewalk, do you think he would have been treated this way? Extra back-up called? Really? You think that all smart-alecks get treated the same by the cops?
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:01 AM on April 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


New York Magazine:
"What's the best way for the cops to make their war on bikers look reasonable? Follow up ticketing a man for riding on a sidewalk (for a few feet) as he approaches his friends' house by arresting the onlooker who cracked a joke about it. See, that way everything else seems sensible by comparison. Friendly quips like, 'You a grown man; you know that's against the law'? Them's fighting words to the NYPD."
posted by ericb at 10:02 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


But the very instant the cops started talking to him -- which, in my universe, is precisely the moment to fade into smoke -- he just kept ladling

I don't know why you are all advocating some kind of cringing deference towards belligerent (yep, they were the belligerent ones) police officers as if it's some king of urban survival instinct. Let's call it for what it is - fear.
posted by Summer at 10:03 AM on April 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


if someone doesn't have better urban survival skills than that isn't sufficiently cowed into submission in their own damn neighborhood
posted by ofthestrait at 10:03 AM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Ah, memories: "Don't Bring a Gun to a Snowball Fight."
posted by ericb at 10:05 AM on April 17, 2011


We teach our students (primarily african-american urban kids) how to code-switch.... you need to talk, act, look different in different situations... this is a good example of someone that hasn't learned that.

That's not code switching. That's subservience.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:05 AM on April 17, 2011 [25 favorites]


But the very instant the cops started talking to him -- which, in my universe, is precisely the moment to fade into smoke -- he just kept ladling. It was like watching someone bailing out a boat in reverse, scooping water out of the sea and dumping it into their own boat. I'm as suspicious/fearful of the police as anyone, so IMO if someone doesn't have better urban survival skills than that, I don't know how on earth they expect to get by.

Not everyone's prime directive is "Avoid arrest at all costs". I have no doubt in my mind this guy KNEW how to defuse the situation, he just was operating under the premise "Avoid arrest for things that are arrest-worthy, and question the authority of those who try and arrest you for things that are not illegal."
posted by 23skidoo at 10:06 AM on April 17, 2011 [27 favorites]


"From JoshuaBamboo [who shot the video] on Twitter, 'just met with the family. He was finally released; charges weren't dropped.'"*
posted by ericb at 10:10 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Guy walks past, joshes with guy on bike, guy on bike joshes back. The cops escalate it by calling him out when he's already gone out of range, guy walking brushes them off - he wasn't threatening, wasn't aggressive, just wasn't bootlicking is all. The cops get out of the van only because they refuse to let it go and INSTEAD of focusing on the infraction they're already dealing with - all three of them follow him, bring him back, and then call for backup - and notice none of them at any point are watching or standing near the guy on the bike waiting for them to finish up with him. Can't help but think if the guy on the bike were black they wouldn't have left him alone like that.

Six cops and three cars there, and they got there that fast! Those other cops had nothing better to do IN ALL OF NYC but to be there to help bring this guy in? It's not only ridiculous overreaction, it's a waste of resources, it's a waste of time, and it could've gotten even uglier once other people came running - all of this totally avoidable.
posted by flex at 10:12 AM on April 17, 2011 [18 favorites]




That's not code switching. That's subservience.

What a stupid thing to say. As a gay and a political activist, I've received more than my share of harassment from the police, and I give them a wide berth. Is it right that I have been so cowed? Perhaps not. Do reforms need to occur? Absolutely, and there are ways to go about it that don't involve tussling in the streets with armed officers. In the meantime people need to know how to protect themselves from moment to moment, and know how to keep a bad situation from becoming worse.

Teaching kids how to avoid being unnecessarily dragged into the criminal justice system is a valuable, admirable thing.
posted by hermitosis at 10:12 AM on April 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


"A commenter on Reddit noted:
'In this situation there is NO probable cause. The cops simply approached someone because he was exercising his right to free speech and they couldn’t handle it. After the contact is made, there is no way that officer is going to back down, so they trap this man into a confrontation. Notice the three officers looming. They know he has every right in the world to walk away, but by giving him no route to go, his actions can be deemed as aggressive if he tries to escape. This is a common tactic.'" *
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on April 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


it's not immediately clear to me that this has anything to do with race, if for no other reason, as I said, than that the cop who got annoyed at this was himself black.

One of the truly amazing things about privilege (in this case white privilege) is how it can be used to divide a subject class against itself. Denigrate a race of people, make their subjugation a "natural" and unremarkable part of the fabric of your society, and inevitably members of that race will about to emulate the oppressor.

Of course, the ultimate way to emulate the oppressor, the ultimate way to demonstrate that "I'm white inside but, that don't help my case", is to join in the oppression or denigration of your own group.

Whether it's the House Slave disparaging the the manners of the Field Slaves, or a light-skinned black who passes the "brown bag test" refusing to associate with a chocolate brother, or the educated child of German Jewish immigrants who, embarrassed by semi-literate Jewish refugees from the Pale of Settlement, calls them kikes, privilege works to internalize racism not just in the culture of the oppressor, but the oppressed as well.

A poor black of the inner city knows what "bougie" (bourgeois) blacks think of him, that he'll tell you he unsettles and embarrasses them, and that they in turn blame hom for beinfg the antithesis of a "credit to the race", whose rejection of white values reflects poorly on them, and holds them back.

So it's no surprise to that poor black that middle-class blacks in a position of authority -- cops, teachers, social workers, city bureaucrats -- treat him with a greater skepticism, cynicism, suspicion, and harshness than they would a white man.

For middle-class blacks, that status is hard-won and precarious. In their minds, the poor blacks' continued mere existence is something that holds them down. The poor black threatens to undermine their climb up, and if not treated unforgiving enough, he might even reach up from his Hellish existence and claw them down from the middle-class status they've slowly, painfully acquired.

So it's no surprise, indeed it's a truism: whites may be more racist in some general sense, but often the harshest treatment of a poor black will be come from a middle-class black. Again, that's designed into the privilege system; essential to oppressing a people is to turn them into their own oppressors, make them do the heavy lifting that perpetuates the privilege system.
posted by orthogonality at 10:14 AM on April 17, 2011 [42 favorites]


ACLU: Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement
" ... You do not have to answer any questions. You can say, 'I do not want to talk to yo u'd walk away calmly. Or, if you do not feel comfortable doing that, you can ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, you can consider just walking away. Do not run from the officer. If the officer says you are not under arrest, but you are not free to go, then you are being detained. Being detained is not the same as being arrested, though an arrest could follow.

The police can pat down the outside of your clothing only if they have 'reasonable suspicion' (i.e., an objective reason to suspect) that you might be armed and dangerous. If they search any more than this, say clearly, 'I do not consent to a search.' If they keep searching anyway, do not physically resist them. You do not need to answer any questions if you are detained or arrested, except that the police may ask for your name once you have been detained, and you can be arrested in some states for refusing to provide it."
posted by ericb at 10:16 AM on April 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


"But the very instant the cops started talking to him -- which, in my universe, is precisely the moment to fade into smoke -- he just kept ladling. It was like watching someone bailing out a boat in reverse, scooping water out of the sea and dumping it into their own boat. I'm as suspicious/fearful of the police as anyone, so IMO if someone doesn't have better urban survival skills than that, I don't know how on earth they expect to get by."

You only have the rights that you exercise, and I sure as hell want the right to not have to fade to smoke the moment a cop rolls by. I can only have any hope possessing this right because of friendly assholes like this. For this, the man is a hero

This is America damnit, what ever happened to live free or die?
posted by Blasdelb at 10:17 AM on April 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Flex Your Rights.
posted by ericb at 10:17 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


So as tempting as it is to mock the white boy in Bed Stuy, maybe wait until after the heat's gone.

Or maybe not. That's an incredibly shitty and racist thing to say.
posted by Scoo at 10:18 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


*I do not want to talk to you and walk away calmly.*
posted by ericb at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2011


At least he ain't riding a fixie.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Teaching kids how to avoid being unnecessarily dragged into the criminal justice system is a valuable, admirable thing.

True, but it's a shame.
posted by peeedro at 10:22 AM on April 17, 2011




harassing someone who is getting a ticket is a sure way to get the police up in your face…

he only escalated things by flashing his ID instead of handing it over and continuing to mouth off…

It's a bad idea to talk back to cops like that…


I cannot believe all the fucking apologists around here. You are all the fucking reason New York sucks now, you ounce-of-freedom-trading-for-a-pound-of-protection motherfuckers.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:23 AM on April 17, 2011 [43 favorites]


Or maybe not. That's an incredibly shitty and racist thing to say.

I dunno, I actually find it hilarious to see Ivy League grads from flyover states living in the ghetto.
posted by jonmc at 10:24 AM on April 17, 2011


I find these views to be very similar to the comments people make about women asking for rape when they dress sexy

Not similar at all, I'm sorry. Saying that behaving in a certain way is a bad idea is IN NO WAY similar to saying someone deserved to be raped.
posted by Aquaman at 10:25 AM on April 17, 2011


In my vision of New York doesn't suck, people--irrespective of race or rank--are civil to each other.
posted by found missing at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2011


'Scandal' bars bike bust -- Cop cites gal for tote-bag 'hazard'
" ... Having ridden a bike for five years in New York, Lecomte du Nouy said she couldn't understand how the city -- which is supposedly trying to encourage cycling -- would hit bike riders with frivolous tickets.

'He said,"Could you get off your bike please?" she told The Post.

'I said, "Why?" He said, "You're not allowed to carry a purse on your handlebars." I thought he was joking.

... The summons listed her offense as "carry articles on bicycle ..."
posted by ericb at 10:26 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Where should they be living? Not every Ivy League grad is working on Wall Street.
posted by ofthestrait at 10:27 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you see me pulled over and/or getting ticketed for something and you decide to start joking with me, you better be one really funny motherfucker because I'll probably be in a shitty mood. Some wise-ass stranger butting into my business is going to just piss me off even more. So much so that I probably won't mind seeing the cops giving you a little of the shit they were just giving me.

The cyclist and black man aren't strangers. According to an article someone linked earlier, the cyclist is visiting the cameraman, and the guy who was arrested is the cameraman's neighbor. For all we know, they're friends or good acquaintances, and the cyclist didn't mind some distracting banter.
posted by plaintiff6r at 10:28 AM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


Where should they be living? Not every Ivy League grad is working on Wall Street.

I dunno, spending a gazillion dollors on your education to live in a shithole seems kind of dumb to me. or like slumming.
posted by jonmc at 10:29 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


walking while black? more like walking while being a dumbass

why would you say anything to the cops? why say something off the cuff to goad the cops to following you ?

the reason i say he's a dumbass is because he laughs or jokes at the guy getting a summons then goes on to play "guess whose thing is bigger" with the cops (by saying something crabby to them ) only to wind up getting arrested for having a warrant for .....wait for it ......not showing up to court for a summons.

there is some justice in this ......
posted by duality at 10:30 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spending tons of money on education = student loans?
posted by giraffe at 10:30 AM on April 17, 2011


or thier parents.
posted by jonmc at 10:31 AM on April 17, 2011


The black guy had every right to exercise his free speech. Because of the cops false arrest, it turned out to be ill-advised... although fortunately for him, it was caught on video, so I'd expect the cops would settle for a few tens of thousands of dollars to get out of the civil suit which will be brought against them. Furthermore, if no one ever exercises their rights, they tend to wither.

More serious for the cops though is how this makes them look... 250,000 people watching a horde of police, with vans and multiple cars harassing and falsely arresting someone who was doing nothing wrong (after this vanload of cops hassled a cyclist for a trivial infraction)... I don't think cops have adjusted yet to this brave new Youtube world.
posted by kevinsp8 at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Saying that behaving in a certain way is a bad idea is IN NO WAY similar to saying someone deserved to be raped...for dressing sexy. (That last part, which is what I said, is key.)

I feel like these are the same logical mechanisms (behaving in a certain way is bad; behaving in a certain way is bad). I find your statement causes a great deal of cognitive dissonance in my head.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 10:32 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


this is a good litmus test to separate those who believe in a free society and those who would like certain people oppressed
posted by pyramid termite at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


cognitive dissonance in my head

that is the worst possible place for cognitive dissonance
posted by found missing at 10:34 AM on April 17, 2011 [16 favorites]


You should be polite to cops for the same reason that you should be polite to bank robbers.

Did you intend the implicit equivalence in that statement?
posted by benito.strauss at 10:36 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


why would you say anything to the cops? why say something off the cuff to goad the cops to following you ?

What're the two most famous duties of a police officer? Oh right, to protect, and to serve. Police are public servants. While no servant deserves crap simply because their job is to be servile, police in this country seem to be regarded as social betters, people whom we ought to treat with increasingly disproportionate respect.

Police should be thicker-skinned than most, utter professionals who know the difference between a sly comment and actual harassment. That he was "asking for it" by "goading" the cops is absurd. If anything, cops should not be capable of being goaded. I'm not looking for Royal Palace Guard stoicism, but they shouldn't come off as hyper-sensitive bullies either.
posted by explosion at 10:38 AM on April 17, 2011 [13 favorites]


Also isn't it illegal to videotape cops? .... In Massachusetts, yes I think so.

Boston police fight cellphone recordings.

New Haven (CT) Cop: You’re Arrested For Videotaping Us.
posted by ericb at 10:40 AM on April 17, 2011


Related FPP: Small digital cameras, the web and the crowd.
posted by ericb at 10:41 AM on April 17, 2011


Why does a Princeton grad on a bike live in Bed Stuy?

How do we know that's where he lives? Maybe he biked over from Chelsea or SoHo.
posted by ericb at 10:42 AM on April 17, 2011


Courtesy
  Professionalism
    Respect

posted by ofthestrait at 10:43 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


um, sorry @duality...
i have a warrant out for not showing up to court for a summons (the summons was for walking on a pier past 6pm, apparently i and like 10 random tourists helped with the quota quite a bit that day). but i'm a white girl and i sincerely doubt that if i cracked a joke to my neighbor while he was being ticketed for riding his bike on the sidewalk i would end up in jail. i say this having had the warrant for a few years now, living in a similar brooklyn neighborhood, and enjoying things like neighbors and jokes.

this has nothing to do with justice. it has to do with unjust police culture, among other things.

also, i wouldn't call bed-stuy a shit-hole. just because it's majority black doesn't make it bad. it's mostly a neighborhood with a lot of brownstones and families.
posted by butterteeth at 10:44 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


ericb: "A commenter on Reddit noted:

And just to explicate this, what he's referring to is the Mendenhall "Free to Leave Test" which is supposed to draw the line between an "encounter" (which is permissible under any circumstance) and an actual "seizure". This is important because under the 4th amendment, probable cause is required before seizure. If there is no probable cause, then the seizure is unlawful. The standard is supposed to be something like "if, in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave" then it's a seizure for 4th amendment purposes. (Of course the courts often have a bizarre idea about when a reasonable person would feel free to leave, but that's for another time).


/NOT A LAWYER (just plays one on the internet)

duality: only to wind up getting arrested for having a warrant for .....wait for it ......not showing up to court for a summons.

Where is this information from? The video says he was charged with "harassment, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest". Nothing from the video indicates that there was a previous warrant for this person.
posted by cyphill at 10:45 AM on April 17, 2011


Keep laughing, assholes. The video is important and we're certainly grateful, but a man was still hauled away here. Learn how to bear witness with a little more respect.
posted by thejoshu at 10:45 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


question about the two-party consent laws that allow police to arrest Bostonians with camera phones -

What about out door surveillant cameras? Are those illegal too?
posted by rebent at 10:46 AM on April 17, 2011


If a world where police can stop you, question you, and make you show them your documents for simply making passing comments to somebody else doesn't frighten you even without the racial angle then you are part of the problem.

Yes. Not to minimize the racial thing at all, but this was the standard "respect my authority" thing. The cops don't want to be respected for the way they act, they want to be respected cause otherwise they'll break your teeth in and/or make you lose your job (if you are in detainment/questioning when your shift starts, good luck to you). If you do anything to indicate you might not be on board with that message, they'll bust you down to size.

I got stopped just a couple of weeks ago here in Toronto for similar "respect my authority" BS. Only difference is, I'm a push over, so I submitted like a little puppy, kissed the cops ass just the way he wanted, and it turned into nothing. The guy in the video stood up for himself a little..

As others have said, that is how it works. It is also a massive problem. Surely videos like this can only help.
posted by Chuckles at 10:48 AM on April 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Page collecting NYC bike crackdown incidents and resources for reporting them.
posted by mediareport at 10:54 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The NYPD is an occupying army. They fucking suck.

The NYC police here in the First Precinct have always been very professional, in my experience. Above and beyond, actually. However, I do suspect they may cherry-pick them for duty that includes City Hall.

I'm told that there's no system for rookies to request a precinct, but that there is some kind of internal process for matching them with neighborhoods.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:56 AM on April 17, 2011


Why don't we simply get rid of all police and assume folks will do the right thing?
Or, have a police force made up of only minority people so we will not have this sort of thing?
Yes, there is racial injustices all the time in most cities...and yes, a lot is based on fact that Blacks do a lot of the crime because of poverty. and yes, cops in general are a different breed of people than, say, accountants, and Yes, our white G.I.s do brutal things while in combat zones,
and Yes, profiling may or may not be enforced, or used, but will go on anyway,
and Yes, cops do want their authority respected as do lots of people in jobs where they believe they have authority....(even my father wanted this from his kids)...
and yes, nothing is likely to change but we can try via education etc
posted by Postroad at 10:56 AM on April 17, 2011


As someone who occasionally bikes in NY, I was actually extremely surprised that you could actually get a ticket for biking across the sidewalk up to your apartment. Not that it was illegal, but that cops would be petty enough to enforce it in situations that were obviously not problematic.

This happens frequently with cyclists and is uncommon with motorists. In part, it's because the laws cyclists must follow are mostly those designed for motor vehicles and don't always make sense for cyclists. The end result is that few cyclists learn anything by getting a ticket but disrespect for the law.

Laws are not followed (solely) to avoid punishment, but because one feels part of a system which makes some kind of sense. Cars stop at red lights because, even if a particular red light seems useless, or useless on a particular occasion, and even if there's little chance of getting caught, it's part of a reasonable attempt to make people safe. When laws are enforced arbitrarily, respect for the law is eroded.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:58 AM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Police should be thicker-skinned than most, utter professionals who know the difference between a sly comment and actual harassment. That he was "asking for it" by "goading" the cops is absurd. If anything, cops should not be capable of being goaded. I'm not looking for Royal Palace Guard stoicism, but they shouldn't come off as hyper-sensitive bullies either.

and again you have every right to say something to the police ( certainly if they are doing something wrong) but in a place and in that neighborhood having a reputation for taking peoples crap, and being respected at the same time, are contradictory things; so......

the funny thing about this is the guy wasnt being arrested for having a smart mouth - the guy was arrested because he was WANTED -

why is it bad idea to talk to the police while wanted ? ah DUH!!!

- you see the police doing their job- do you like it if some guy walks along and injects himself while you are doing your job? why is it ok to do it to the cops?

- its a good idea to allow some random passer by to interject himself into a police situation no matter how much of a nuisance you think it is?

theres something wrong in this country - i am continually amazed that people have to inject themselves into a situation or occurrence because they just cant wait til an appropriate time to actually speak their mind.

and lets not pretend that dude walking off is ripping off one liners to the cops because he doesnt want their attention - he got it .

people somehow confuse a public service occupation with being servile.
posted by duality at 10:59 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


theres something wrong in this country

You mean, the 1st amendment? Dude wasn't even talking to the police at first.
posted by ofthestrait at 11:01 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


the guy was arrested because he was WANTED

post proof, please
posted by pyramid termite at 11:07 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd be willing to bet a couple bucks that they thought that guy on the bike was one of those pot delivery guys. How those guys travel with that much weed on them and stay so calm is beyond me.

As a white guy you will get stopped sometimes if you look like you might be selling/picking up/buying drugs. In my youth,when I'd step outside a certain bar I was a regular at for a smoke, guys sometimes used to ask me to go further down the street because a white guy standing on the corner attracted cops.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:08 AM on April 17, 2011


The video says he was charged with "harassment, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest". Nothing from the video indicates that there was a previous warrant for this person.

how would the video guys know what he was charged with???

i can certainly say that while Crown Heights is not a BAD neighborhood its a neighborhood in "transition" ( meaning lots of white people are starting to move their ..ahem sorry gentrification )

you can bet black guys riding bikes was occuring willy nilly before and the cops didnt pay attention 70' 80's 90's - but in 2010 now......not so much

but thats another debate ......

and yes its very contradictory for the mayor and his office to push for people to ride bikes meanwhile putting the press on the PD to step up bike riding rules with the unbending eye of steel .
posted by duality at 11:08 AM on April 17, 2011


the comments by people on this thread justifying this as "well you need to be overtly polite to cops because this is their normal behaviour" prove not only that the US is a police state but that they are part of the problem. because for americans to carp about the exceptionalism of the US constitution but then say, well it only applies to some people and only if they speak a certain way ESPECIALLY to people in positions of authority, then, honey, Y'ALL ARE THE REASON WE LIVE IN A POLICE STATE.
posted by liza at 11:09 AM on April 17, 2011 [17 favorites]


the funny thing about this is the guy wasnt being arrested for having a smart mouth - the guy was arrested because he was WANTED -

uh... i watched the video. from what i could see, he was arrested essentially for having bad manners. maybe it turned out he had an outstanding warrant? could be. but from what i saw in the video, that had nothing to do with why he was arrested in the first place. or did i miss something?
posted by molecicco at 11:09 AM on April 17, 2011


how would the video guys know what he was charged with???

how do you know?

you need to back your assertion up
posted by pyramid termite at 11:11 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


They didn't have the right to ask for his ID to begin with. Without that how would the police know if he had a warrant out for him or not?

When do I have to show police my ID?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:17 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


only to wind up getting arrested for having a warrant for .....wait for it ......not showing up to court for a summons.

I think you're missing that the summons he wasn't complying with is the one they were giving him for no reason a couple minutes prior.

If they were able to process his identification as quickly as you are citing, I too may be inclined to hail these NYPD wizards as our new overlords.
posted by pokermonk at 11:19 AM on April 17, 2011


It's very simple, and deserves to be said in all threads like this:

Until the "good cops" stop protecting the "bad cops," ALL cops are complicit in abuse.

Dear Good Cops: stop protecting the assholes that ruin your reputation and corrode the trust of the public. They're not your "brothers," they are putting your lives at risk.
posted by chimaera at 11:19 AM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


- you see the police doing their job- do you like it if some guy walks along and injects himself while you are doing your job? why is it ok to do it to the cops?

He spoke, briefly, to the man being detained. Mainly to jokingly scold the detainee. He didn't interrupt or engage the police.
posted by nuala at 11:21 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a member of an all white police dept. in an all white city in sunny California, I was told by my Watch Sergeant, to stop and check for wanted any car load of blacks that drives thru our city.
posted by taxpayer at 11:23 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't tell if that's a joke! :(
posted by giraffe at 11:25 AM on April 17, 2011


The people comparing this to rape victims "asking for it" are way off base. It's simple common sense, as an old friend of mine used to say "Don't Let Your Mouth Write A Check That Your Ass Can't Cash". This fits in most situations in life. Would people be defending the guy if he was white and went to Harlem and started using the N word and people harmed him, even though it's legal? What if i went to a biker bar and told them i thought they were all pedophiles and rapists? Words are actions, they have consequences, and if you can't understand that then you have bigger troubles.

This had nothing to do with race, it's simply one person in power (cop) and someone provoking them. Could the cop have handled it better? Probably, but so could the other guy. Similar to bringing a knife to a gun fight, one person has power, right or wrong.
posted by usagizero at 11:26 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


how do you know?

you need to back your assertion up


well because they asked for his ID - at the least they had OGA but running his name them coming back to cuff him generally indicates they arent cuffing him for shits and giggles - they are cuffing him and putting him in a van because he's got an outstanding warrant. this is what happens when the police ask you for your ID in NYC - they are running your name when they ask for it - they arent running it to be on a first name basis with you.

OGA is obstruction of governmental administration - that means when you interfere in the police or a government employee doing their job - you can be arrested for it - its a misdemeanor

now is his mouthing off initially OGA? no but im pretty sure his continued exchange to where the police move from conducting business with the biker to conducting business with him could definitely be grounds to say they could at the LEAST stop him for OGA - which is what they did


You mean, the 1st amendment? Dude wasn't even talking to the police at first.



he was afterwards - and that led to his getting cuffed up -

look we can debate til the cows come home about how people can or should talk to the police but facts is the guy wasnt being racially profiled - he was being an asshole and met assholes who could arrest him - frankly thats a win win
posted by duality at 11:30 AM on April 17, 2011


uh, yeah, actually, if there was a video of a guy walking into a biker bar and calling the bikers names and the bikers stomped him, I *would* blame the bikers. People can say what they want. You don't have to listen to them. Free country man
posted by rebent at 11:31 AM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


how would the video guys know what he was charged with???

Because that's his neighbor and he spoke with the guy's family. I don't think he was wanted. I can't find a statement from the cameraman saying that.
posted by plaintiff6r at 11:33 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's simple common sense, as an old friend of mine used to say "Don't Let Your Mouth Write A Check That Your Ass Can't Cash".

It's simple common sense, as an old friend of mine used to say "Don't Dress Like A Slut, If You Don't Want to Get Raped."
posted by pokermonk at 11:34 AM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


The officer who got annoyed that the guy on foot was being a smartass to the guy getting a ticket was black himself.

From ancient history:

And on the other hand, without a gun they can't get none
But don't let it be a black and a white one
Cause they'll slam ya down to the street top
Black police showing out for the white cop
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:35 AM on April 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


Black Officer: "Is there a problem?"
Furious Styles: "Yeah, it's just a shame you don't know what it is. ...Brotha."
posted by cashman at 11:44 AM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


well because they asked for his ID - at the least they had OGA but running his name them coming back to cuff him generally indicates they arent cuffing him for shits and giggles - they are cuffing him and putting him in a van because he's got an outstanding warrant. this is what happens when the police ask you for your ID in NYC - they are running your name when they ask for it - they arent running it to be on a first name basis with you.

They never got his ID. He plays keep away with the first cop, then at 1:52 he holds it out the the female cop on his right, but the first cop says "it's too late, he's coming with us" at 1:56, the ID is back in the wallet by 2:00, and the wallet is given to the friend in the red shirt at 2:45.

How do you think they knew of an outstanding warrant again? How did they "run his name"?
posted by peeedro at 11:48 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Black police are all the same because they're black. Don't you get it you racists?
posted by found missing at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's very simple, and deserves to be said in all threads like this:

Until the "good cops" stop protecting the "bad cops," ALL cops are complicit in abuse.

Dear Good Cops: stop protecting the assholes that ruin your reputation and corrode the trust of the public. They're not your "brothers," they are putting your lives at risk.


Yes, Yes! One thousand times Yes!

I'd like to think that a too-large-for-comfort percentage of NYC cops are not racist, misogynistic d-bags, and for a while I was in one of the "only a couple bad apples spoiling the bunch" camp. However, I'd like to introduce you to TheeRant, a bulletin board where (verified) NYC cops are able to say what they really think:

(all of the following links are NSFW and likely to be triggering in all kinds of ways):

Most of the posters there seem pretty comfortable airing all of their racist opinions on what appears to be a very active and popular board.


MattD, as to these more diverse officers, it must be a delightful experience for them to work surrounded by these kinds of attitudes.

I am not a cop hater, I think it's a terrifically stressful career and a good, honest, hard-working police force is necessary in order to have a functioning society. However, the fact that more than a handful of officers not only have these opinions but are emboldened enough to publicly state air opinions because they assume (perhaps correctly- jesus I hope not) that their fellow brethren sitting behind their computers feel the same way but just aren't bold enough to hit the post button.

After reading a couple of posts defending the two NYPD cops currently on trial for raping an extremely drunk woman in her apartment, I began to understand why the percentage of rape victims who decide to press charges (let alone report their rapes) is so low.

Having a force where this kind of "othering" of the people who they are enlisted to protect needs to be addressed, because in order for the police to be able to do their job with any effectiveness there needs to be a level of trust between the police and the civilians who rely on them that is impossible to achieve when the side with all of the power abuses it by deciding that some groups of civilians, depending on their gender, or skin color, where they live, or whether or not they are liberals, are more equal than others.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2011 [21 favorites]


orthogonality:One of the truly amazing things about privilege (in this case white privilege) is how it can be used to divide a subject class against itself....

I don't know who you are or what you do but you made my life a little easier knowing that there are real , aware , awake people still out there.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:01 PM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


well because they asked for his ID

cart, meet horse, get in front of horse
posted by pyramid termite at 12:03 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


TL;DR, didn't need to. FTP; too many of them are badged, armed, 100% willing to lie for one of another; to my eyes and experiences, 21st century version of a 1943 SS troop.

No respects. Zero. None. First thing I do when approached by a police is call 911; because between the gun, the unknown element wearing it, and the bully bully shove shove mannerisms; I feel the need to at least have the conversation recorded; or have a corporal / sergeant show up and handle the situation in a professional manner.
posted by buzzman at 12:03 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


21st century version of a 1943 SS troop

Jesus, when did Metafilter turn into the same repository of idiotic horseshit as the rest of the internet? That's just such an unbelievably pig-ignorant thing to say, I don't know how to respond.
posted by Dasein at 12:09 PM on April 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


Don't worry, I called 911.
posted by found missing at 12:11 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"First thing I do when approached by a police is call 911"

I'm genuinely curious, how does this work? Do you call 911 and say to the dispatcher, "I am being approached by a policeman, please send someone"? Apologies if that sounds funny, I'm sincerely wondering how something like that plays out.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:15 PM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dasein: “That's just such an unbelievably pig-ignorant thing to say, I don't know how to respond.”

Pardon me, I'll just be over here giggling for a while.
posted by koeselitz at 12:21 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


orthogonality: One of the truly amazing things about privilege (in this case white privilege) is how it can be used to divide a subject class against itself. Denigrate a race of people, make their subjugation a "natural" and unremarkable part of the fabric of your society, and inevitably members of that race will emulate the oppressor.

One of the most beautifully written stories I've read that expresses this is Charles W. Chesnutt's The Wife of His Youth. A painfully complex aspect of being black in America is that being black does not free you from racial prejudice against other black people, or even yourself.
posted by mapinduzi at 12:26 PM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Page collecting NYC bike crackdown incidents and resources for reporting them.

Heavens. Cyclists having to obey the law. Laws are for pedestrians and drivers! THIS SHALL NOT STAND!
posted by rodgerd at 12:32 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Something I hadn't thought about until watching the video again is that the cameraman appears to be white. Which puts a giant, 10,000 watt smile on my face. Because they saw this bullshit for what it was, happening to their neighbors in their neighborhood, and they put it online, and in those actions demonstrate to the NYPD precisely how racial equality is supposed to work.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:34 PM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you're going to take video on your smartphone of the cops being assholes, please rotate your device to landscape mode so your video doesn't seem like we're looking through a crack in the door opening.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:37 PM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


please rotate your device to landscape mode so your video doesn't seem like we're looking through a crack in the door opening.

Dunno, seems like a fair representation of the milieu to me.

I mean, here we are talking about a guy getting hauled in pretty much for mouthing off a little, safe ourselves (for the moment) behind closed doors, but looking out through this sliver of an opening...
posted by namespan at 12:44 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dunno, seems like a fair representation of the milieu to me.

It's not really something that needs some sort of treatment like that, though. Get as good a representation as is possible from the device. You can edit it however you like later on.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:46 PM on April 17, 2011


The guy being arrested was behaving like an asshole.

The cops were behaving like bigger assholes.

Hurray, video caught everyone behaving like an asshole.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:49 PM on April 17, 2011


how would the video guys know what he was charged with???

He knows the family and spoke to them.
"I gave this video to the family. He is still being held in custody.*

"I met with the guy's nephew last night. He is out of jail. The charges remain the same. The next step is court."*
posted by ericb at 12:55 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


question about the two-party consent laws that allow police to arrest Bostonians with camera phones -

What about out door surveillant cameras? Are those illegal too?


What about TV cameras?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2011


Honestly, I can't summon up much sympathy for the guy who was arrested. At some point, you have to weight the balance of running your mouth vs having to deal with cops. If you don't have the survival skills to know how to make nice once three cops get out of a van and start approaching, well tough luck. Yes, he got the short end of the stick. No, it isn't fair. Yes, the officers overstepped their bounds and acted like assholes. And yet...if the guy had simply kept walking or even backed down, things would have dialed back down. You don't win against the cops on their turf, especially three pissed off ones who you've "made" get out of their comfy van. It's hard to have sympathy for belligerent stupidity.

I doubt this was much about race. It was about a dick officer wanting to wield some power and other officers going along with it. The one officer who started shit should be fired, the others written up. They went looking for trouble and put themselves in unnecessary danger, for no good reason and accomplished jack shit by doing it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:02 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


only to wind up getting arrested for having a warrant for .....wait for it ......not showing up to court for a summons.

What? As others have asked, where is this information from? Nowhere in the handful of articles I have read on Google News, etc.
posted by ericb at 1:07 PM on April 17, 2011


now is his mouthing off initially OGA? no but im pretty sure his continued exchange to where the police move from conducting business with the biker to conducting business with him could definitely be grounds to say they could at the LEAST stop him for OGA - which is what they did

The cops are the ones who got out of the car to go talk to the guy. If the cops had just been "Hey, let's stay in this car and say nothing to the guy", none of this would've happened.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:08 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


only to wind up getting arrested for having a warrant for .....wait for it ......not showing up to court for a summons.

I'm going to just come out and call you a liar for saying this, and dare you to prove me wrong.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:09 PM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


The people comparing this to rape victims "asking for it" are way off base. It's simple common sense, as an old friend of mine used to say "Don't Let Your Mouth Write A Check That Your Ass Can't Cash".

Pause and just... listen to yourself!
You've phrased the "she was asking for trouble in that outfit!" attitude perfectly, and you still can't connect the dots?!
To these people, wearing a hot outfit is making a statement just as surely as if mouthing off.
If a woman doesn't want to provoke a response, she shouldn't wear provocative clothing.

It is absolutely the same thing.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:17 PM on April 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's also "simple common sense" in exactly the same way.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:18 PM on April 17, 2011


I'm not at all sure that the rape equivalence-or-not is a discussion that's going to go anywhere useful.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:19 PM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah -- I'm with 23skidoo on your claim that he had an outstanding warrant. Prove it.
posted by ericb at 1:20 PM on April 17, 2011


First thing I do when approached by a police is call 911.

A friend of mine actually called 911 for his one phone call he had in jail. Ambulance guys showed up. Ambulance guys left. Friend stayed in jail.
posted by marxchivist at 1:28 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely curious, how does this work? Do you call 911 and say to the dispatcher, "I am being approached by a policeman, please send someone"?

Yes, that is exactly what I have said. And 911 has always been very professional due to the frequency of '?fake police/people buying police outfits over the internet?' syndrome.

It usually goes like this. The cop get a call on his mike; and I'm good to carry on in a matter of minutes. Otherwise, a second car shows up, I get the run through, then sometimes a third car shows up; same routine. A real waste of time. For stuff like; walking down the block. ...

911 has always been very accomodating; and yeah. Police freak me out. The are not sheriffs, DPS, or MPs/SPs. Police operate with little or no accountability. Fired = move on to next department in another city or state. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I don't know how to respond

Neither do I. Cooperation yields more grilling, etc. Refer back to this thread; and a hundred like it. Civilian police have kinda lost total respect for a lot of people that have had firsthand experiences with them
posted by buzzman at 1:35 PM on April 17, 2011


(I took an interest in the rape-severity-dismissal angle because my initial assumption was likewise against the similarity - against the idea that chiding the arrestee for failing to be sensible was the same blame-the-victim mentality as not caring about rape victims who failed to wear sensible attire - until I read some of the claims otherwise, explaining (in exactly the same thought processes and language as used 20 years ago with rape) why it was obvious and practical and simple and justified.)
I don't plan to add further to that sub-topic here though.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:39 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


ACLU: Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement
" ... You do not have to answer any questions. You can say, 'I do not want to talk to yo u'd walk away calmly. Or, if you do not feel comfortable doing that, you can ask if you are free to go. If the answer is yes, you can consider just walking away. Do not run from the officer. If the officer says you are not under arrest, but you are not free to go, then you are being detained. Being detained is not the same as being arrested, though an arrest could follow.

The police can pat down the outside of your clothing only if they have 'reasonable suspicion' (i.e., an objective reason to suspect) that you might be armed and dangerous. If they search any more than this, say clearly, 'I do not consent to a search.' If they keep searching anyway, do not physically resist them. You do not need to answer any questions if you are detained or arrested, except that the police may ask for your name once you have been detained, and you can be arrested in some states for refusing to provide it."


Note: Police do not follow these rules.
posted by LordSludge at 1:50 PM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I live in Bed Stuy. There is an attitude held by some of the cops who work in this neighborhood that is particularly contemptuous toward black men and black teens, and it's very frustrating to watch.

A few weeks ago, I started to notice more cops hanging out on the corners during the day. It seemed weird to me, so after I made my daily visit to the deli, I crossed the street to go talk to the beat cops.

As they saw me coming, they looked ... intimidated. As if they were afraid I was going to go up to them and complain about something. Really, I just wanted to know why they were on my block in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

When they realized I wasn't there to complain, they opened up and started chatting like we were old friends. They told me that they were on the block to make sure kids go straight home from school, because as the weather gets warmer kids like to hang out more. I asked why that was a problem, and the cops said kids make trouble on the streets and get into fights and they need to move along.

I thanked them for the information and went home, feeling icky about the whole thing. It seems to me that these kids, who live in the neighborhood, should be allowed to hang out in front of their favorite bodega after school, the way kids in the suburb where I grew up were allowed to hang out in the parking lot of Dunkin Donuts. I think this is their neighborhood, and I feel pretty annoyed at the NYPD for stationing cops at street corners just to keep kids from hanging out. I feel pretty annoyed by the underlying attitude, that poor black kids shouldn't be allowed to have the freedoms I had as a kid because they'll use those freedoms to commit crimes.

On my old block a friend of mine came back from "being away" for a few days, and he confided that he'd been stopped by a cop and asked if he had drugs on him. He had a blunt in his pocket, and that was that. I said something to him about decriminalization and how you can't be arrested any more for possession of a small amount of weed as long as you're not in a school zone. And he said to me, "No, you can't be arrested for that, White Girl."
posted by brina at 1:55 PM on April 17, 2011 [33 favorites]




You don't have to be a coward to be pragmatic, but sometimes it helps.
posted by artof.mulata at 2:10 PM on April 17, 2011


Gotta add some 2cents, my uncle was a cop in Detroit and is/was the most ridiculous racists you could met, with the exception of black cops.
Its odd to see a black cop and a white cop converse causually about some" dumb (fill in racial slur here)" did x, y or z. Nor will I ever forget him calling referring to his maglight flashlight as a" nigger beater". I actually avoid his presence at the expense of seeing family due to his hatred and terribly offense statements.
Anyone who truly believes that black cops or any cops for that matter are racists or prejudice are seriously delusional.
posted by handbanana at 2:31 PM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


* sorry edited to fix:
anyone who truly believes that black cops or any cops for that matter are NOT racists or prejudice....
posted by handbanana at 2:33 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My grandmother is racist. Anyone who thinks that grandmothers are not racist are fooling themselves.
posted by found missing at 2:35 PM on April 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Civilian police have kinda lost total respect for a lot of people that have had firsthand experiences with them.

This, a thousand times. Mostly everyone I know thinks that the NYPD are nothing but bullies and thugs and liars, mainly due to having first hand experiences with them.

Having both witnessed and been subject to various injustices perpetrated countless times by the local cops, my attitude towards them changed from being mostly neutral to one of disrespect and antipathy.

I don't believe for a second that there is any way that the behavior of the beat cops could occur without the implicit consent of the higher ups and the other members of the force.
posted by newpotato at 2:41 PM on April 17, 2011


Man, fuck the memaws, comin straight from the underground.
posted by cashman at 2:43 PM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Remember folks you don't have any rights until the judge gives them to you. Cops can do what they please and let it all get sorted out in court.
posted by Gungho at 3:11 PM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


duality: “only to wind up getting arrested for having a warrant for .....wait for it ......not showing up to court for a summons. there is some justice in this”

Even assuming that you're right about this – which seems like a stretch, given the evidence – you'd have to be a cruel bastard to call that any kind of justice. And I imagine you have no idea what it's like to be arrested, even for not appearing on a summons.

I've been arrested for that. It sucks. It is very, very not fun. At best, it means at least 12 hours sitting in booking waiting for them to "process the paperwork." And I'm just a clean-cut white boy; they gave it to me easy. I wouldn't be surprised if it took this guy 24 hours to get back home – again, if he's lucky.
posted by koeselitz at 3:17 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine a time or place when mouthing off to policemen was an intelligent strategy. The quicker someone is to squeal that the USA is a 'police state' the less likely that person is to have spent a week in a place without law and order, or where the police are endemically corrupt or, least of all, in a real police state.
posted by joannemullen at 3:19 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


joannemullen: “I can't imagine a time or place when mouthing off to policemen was an intelligent strategy. The quicker someone is to squeal that the USA is a 'police state' the less likely that person is to have spent a week in a place without law and order, or where the police are endemically corrupt or, least of all, in a real police state.”

That's not the point, though. The United States is far better than Libya; that everyone sane can agree on. But being arrested is a serious punishment, and I think people here aren't noting that.

Back in the day, a long time ago, judges actually used to give one-day sentences and stuff like that. Now, they don't. Why? Because if you've been arrested, you've already served a one-day sentence – you just haven't been charged with anything, and you served not because you were convicted or ordered to but because a cop somewhere thought he'd make your life hell for a day.

There are good cops in the world. There are cops who look at the guy mouthing off, roll their eyes, and say: "sir, move along please." That's what cops are trained to do well, and they should know how.

Arresting someone in this case, without just cause whatsoever, is unconscionable; and the fact that Libya is worse doesn't make unnecessary arrests good.
posted by koeselitz at 3:25 PM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


That's what cops are trained to do well, and they should know how.

It isn't. Cops are absolutely trained in "respect my authority" tactics. In fact, I suspect they are more likely to pull those antics while they are in training (or doing training) than for the rest of their careers. I think the idea is that trainees "need to learn" that they have the power and authority, and the way they learn is practice.
posted by Chuckles at 3:34 PM on April 17, 2011


Pause and just... listen to yourself!
You've phrased the "she was asking for trouble in that outfit!" attitude perfectly, and you still can't connect the dots?!
To these people, wearing a hot outfit is making a statement just as surely as if mouthing off.
If a woman doesn't want to provoke a response, she shouldn't wear provocative clothing.

It is absolutely the same thing.


But you see, it is wrong for people to take the manner of dress or particular style of walk or [insert adjective here] as justification for rape. Because the person wearing those clothes is not doing it to invite a rapist.

Meanwhile, a guy mouthing off to a police officer IS inviting himself into an encounter with the police. If this guy had actually just been minding his own business, it might be a more apt comparison. But this guy is almost literally asking for it by taunting the police.

This is some kind of logical fallacy, but I can't figure out which one it is. But using the "logic" of rapists and rape-apologists is not the way to win an argument.
posted by gjc at 3:38 PM on April 17, 2011


You know who else missed above that we've stopped the rape derail? That's right. Hitler.
posted by found missing at 3:40 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, a guy mouthing off to a police officer

Which is not what happened here.
There must be a term for the logical fallacy of falsely citing a logical fallacy...
posted by Chuckles at 3:52 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not that it contributes to the squabble much, but it sure seems to me like "funny black guy" was perfectly within his rights and although he did not exercise politeness towards the cops, it is not against to law to be impolite to cops, or anyone for that matter. I used to wonder what I'd do if I turned around and bumped into George W Bush. I wouldn't be polite, at any rate. FBG wasn't "asking for it," the cops were looking for it, it's as plain as day. Hopefully the main aggressor cop gets suspended and the others reprimanded.

The most important thing to come out of this video is document it! If you see something like this happening, whip out your phone or camera and film away.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:35 PM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


This thread is incredibly depressing. A sizable (majority?) fraction of even an articulate, intelligent, relatively-liberal population blames the victim and tacitly OKs authoritarianism.
posted by DU at 4:45 PM on April 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


The cops escalate it

ding ding ding we have a winnner. A smart cop who doesn't want to waste his time or that of his partners (or the taxpayers' dollars) would laugh the guy off.
posted by stargell at 4:52 PM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


The way I see it, there was a kid getting a ticket for a ridiculous stupid offense (riding a bike on the sidewalk to a friend's door). A guy walking by, a neighborhood local, makes a joke about the ridiculousness of it in a funny, sharp way. The ticketed guy makes a joke back. At this point, the cop in the car tells the guy something along the lines of "mind your own business." The smartass (yet wise and correct, mind you) guy tells him the truth, which was "I wasn't talking to you."

That's just him being honest. The only thing he's NOT doing is kissing the cop's ass. Plain and simple.

And that is, of course, why the cop gets out. Purely to flex his muscles in a pissing contest.

Let's be straight about this: The video shows some sincere bullshit about how cops react when they're reminded that some people still don't kiss their ass out of fear/annoyance.

Especially when they react JUST AS PEOPLE WHO DON'T TRUST THEM BELIEVE THEY'RE GOING TO REACT.
posted by gcbv at 5:07 PM on April 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


The smartass (yet wise and correct, mind you) guy tells him the truth, which was "I wasn't talking to you."

Oh please, the guy is was loud mouthed jackass, which while certainly isn't a crime, hardly makes him wise and correct, particularly after he got his dumb ass self arrested.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:11 PM on April 17, 2011


FIAMO, copper.
posted by buzzman at 5:16 PM on April 17, 2011


This video reminds me of the show "what would you do". They proved there is racial profiling not only among police officers but also among regular citizens. Shame on them
posted by juanillogg at 5:18 PM on April 17, 2011


I can't imagine a time or place when mouthing off to policemen was an intelligent strategy. The quicker someone is to squeal that the USA is a 'police state' the less likely that person is to have spent a week in a place without law and order, or where the police are endemically corrupt or, least of all, in a real police state.

Well, at least it's not a police state if you're white and you live in the nice part of town. It starts to start walking a little more towards the police state line as soon as the cops can pick you up off your front porch and shake you down to see if you have drugs on you so they can make an arrest to reach a quota. Not what happened in this case, true, but definitely the environment that surrounds it.
posted by codacorolla at 5:19 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh please, the guy is was loud mouthed jackass, which while certainly isn't a crime, hardly makes him wise and correct, particularly after he got his dumb ass self arrested.

Nice. Of course being a jackass, and being correct surely can't coexist.

And He got HIMSELF arrested?

Double nice.
posted by gcbv at 5:28 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nice. Of course being a jackass, and being correct surely can't coexist.

It doesn't matter, in any practical sense, if the guy was correct or not. He could have chosen to back down and he would have been able to walk away. He didn't and that's his choice, but that doesn't mean he can ignore the consequences. There's very little chance of winning if you're going up against 3 cops on the street. The smarter thing would be get out of the situation and deal with their antics on a more level playing field. Or walk away, since the situation was so minor.

None of the above should be viewed as an excuse of those officers, who were doing a vigorous display of exercise in how not handle a situation (back up for one loudmouth, really?).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:46 PM on April 17, 2011


He could have chosen to back down and he would have been able to walk away.

Back down how? He told the cop he wasn't talking to him. What else could he have done? Not answer the cop? I'm sure that would have ended pretty much the same.

When a bully sets his sights on you, he's not going to let you get away unscathed.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:55 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Back down how? He told the cop he wasn't talking to him.

That was the first mistake. He essentially told the cop to fuck off.

He could have politely said "My bad, officer" and kept on walking. He didn't, for whatever reason, which is his prerogative, but that doesn't make him wise in my eyes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 PM on April 17, 2011


Brandon, you're reasoning as if the police were a force of nature. While your take on this individual instance may have been be practical/pragmatic for FBG, the point being argued here is that it is the citizens' duty to set guidelines for police behavior. And give a call out when they're not met or should be changed.
posted by likeso at 6:23 PM on April 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


...the point being argued here is that it is the citizens' duty to set guidelines for police behavior

I, obviously, wasn't speaking to the point. It didn't really seem to matter and existed in a world that is not reality, however nice it might seem.

No, funny black guy didn't do anything illegal, no question, but it's never wise to mess with the police on their turf and attempt to argue legality, particularly in such a random fashion. That's just asking for trouble.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:46 PM on April 17, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: “He essentially told the cop to fuck off.”

"I wasn't talking to you" doesn't seem the same as "fuck off" to me. His tone was irreverent, but it wasn't as disrespectful as you're painting it.

Look, this isn't really much of an argument. It was and is probably not "wise" to respond to police officers in a way that is anything but subservient in the extreme. I'll grant that. But where, on the part of the guy who got arrested, we have a bit more irreverence and rowdiness in public than is "wise" – a minor lack of social grace, if anything at all – on the part of the police, we have an uncalled for arrest which is both egregious and illegal. There are not, as far as I know, laws on the books in New York City that allow a police officer to arrest someone if they don't like a person's tone.

It really doesn't matter at all whether this fellow is "wise." There is no legal requirement that people be "wise." I know you're not saying "he got what was coming to him," but yeah – while I agree, and what he did is not something I would ever do, I still think the issue here worth talking about is a groundless arrest that unnecessarily deprived a human being of their freedom.
posted by koeselitz at 8:00 PM on April 17, 2011


Brandon, if the only and ultimate aim is for this single individual to avoid trouble, sure, I understand your point. You don't tug on Superman's cape, spit into the wind or mess around with Jim. Some brave (and well-informed and easily lawyered-up) folks might have been able to have held their ground and either not be arrested or get the charges dropped instanter, but FBG didn't and/or couldn't.

The "reality" is that we, the citizens (note the plural) set the standards. The ultimate aim is for citizens to influence police procedure via media, voting choices and public outcry such that this kind of encounter is not considered acceptable and tolerated. Neither by the public (by knuckling under) nor by the police themselves.
posted by likeso at 8:09 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I wasn't talking to you" doesn't seem the same as "fuck off" to me. His tone was irreverent, but it wasn't as disrespectful as you're painting it.

Telling someone in authority, with gun on their belt, "I wasn't talking to you" is text book example, IMO, of telling them to fuck off and it's only going to escalate things, unless you happen to be dealing with a good cop, on a good day.

I still think the issue here worth talking about is a groundless arrest that unnecessarily deprived a human being of their freedom.

What's there to talk about? The cop who was mouthing off was a total asshole and should probably be fired, the other two written up for going along with it. The guy arrested didn't deserved that, but it's not surprising that it happened.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:16 PM on April 17, 2011


but it's not surprising that it happened.

Here we are with this again. I just don't think "Oh, surprise surprise, another kid got shot to death by hasty law enforcement" is a great reaction when things that should be shocking occur.

I fully expect someone to get brutally murdered tonight in that same city. But when it happens, I think "Oh my gosh that's horrible" is a better reaction than "It's not surprising that it happened".

Also, regarding the specific 5 or 6 seconds where the interaction first begins to go sour, I think there are two ways of taking it, maybe even three. I didn't re-watch the video again, so excuse me if the text isn't perfect.

FBG: To biker: You're a grown ass man...blahblahblah
Cop: Mind your business
FBG: I wasn't talking to you

(Meaning 1) FBG's "I wasn't talking to you": Fuck off.

(Meaning 2) FBG's "I wasn't talking to you": But why are you confronting me, I was talking to another person and he was talking to me, which there's clearly no law against."

(Meaning 3) FBG's "I wasn't talking to you": I was talking to another person and he was talking to me, which there's clearly no law against. Fuck off.

When I watched the video earlier, I took it as #2.
posted by cashman at 8:31 PM on April 17, 2011


Here we are with this again. I just don't think "Oh, surprise surprise, another kid got shot to death by hasty law enforcement" is a great reaction when things that should be shocking occur.

That isn't what occurred here, so I have no idea why you're bringing up a story that isn't based on the reality of this situation and using it a basis for the right or wrongness of my reaction to what actually happened. The lack of surprise or anger doesn't come from not caring, it's from seeing these situations happen before, on larger and smaller scales and being dismayed about people being surprised about how it plays out.

The situation sucked. Pretty much everyone acted like a jackass, to varying degrees. This post is weak sauce for immediately making this about race, when it's more about class and assholes being assholes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:41 PM on April 17, 2011


Okay. I think I understand now. The "it's just the way it is" approach to human affairs. Right.
Think about this. Please.



(FWIW, I don't think most folks in this thread were in any way surprised at this incident. I think they were disgusted.)
posted by likeso at 8:54 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


He could have politely said "My bad, officer" and kept on walking.

If only Emmit Till had known how to kiss ass, he might be alive today. But instead he decided to recklessly eyeball a white lady!
posted by orthogonality at 8:56 PM on April 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


If only Emmit Till had known how to kiss ass, he might be alive today. But instead he decided to recklessly eyeball a white lady!

Well it isn't surprising that he got killed acting like that back then. /hamburger
posted by cashman at 9:01 PM on April 17, 2011


If only Emmit Till had known how to kiss ass, he might be alive today. But instead he decided to recklessly eyeball a white lady!

I have no idea what Emmit Till has do with this situation or why you'd make the comparison. Would you care to elaborate on how kidnapping a 14 year old boy, gouging out his eyes and then shooting him in the head for flirting with a white woman is comparable to an adult being needlessly arrested for back talking a cop?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 PM on April 17, 2011


They both needed to "know their place". /elaboration
posted by LordSludge at 9:23 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Comparing this specific unfortunate incident to increasingly terrible things is, in general, not a way for the conversation to stay civil. Can we please try not to keep upping the stakes?
posted by restless_nomad at 9:29 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: “What's there to talk about? The cop who was mouthing off was a total asshole and should probably be fired, the other two written up for going along with it. The guy arrested didn't deserved that, but it's not surprising that it happened.”

This seems like sort of a non-argument, as I feel like I know you well enough, Brandon, to know that you're not suggesting something like "Emmett Till was asking for it!" or anything like that. (I mean, yes, it's silly for people who know you and know you're not saying that to bring it up.) And I know you even agree that the cops did something wrong, and should be disciplined for it.

All you seem to be saying is that it isn't really surprising that this happened, and that in fact the guy really should have known that it would happen. And, again, I think nobody here is going to disagree on those points.

All I'm saying, I guess, is that – well, it seems like it's something to talk about, yes. Cops did something wrong. And it should be talked about when that happens, particularly when it's a clear-cut case.

But, yeah, maybe us talking about it here, divorced from the actual situation, doesn't help much. It's worth noting it, though; particularly since there have been those in this very thread (not you, but other people) who have voiced the feeling that this guy who got arrested did get what was coming to him, that the cops were totally within their rights, and that they're glad this went down the way it did. So I think it's at least worth setting the record straight on that.

However, again, I don't think you disagree with me much here, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 9:34 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think anybody here disagrees on whether it's surprising. And I don't think anybody here thinks you should, as a matter of principle, mouth of to cops. What we're disagreeing on is whether it should be surprising, and whether we should make a big deal out of these things when they finally get recorded, even though it's not surprising that it happens.

People have been telling stories about cops abusing authority for decades, but it's only now that everyone has cameras that we're seeing proof of it all of the time. I think it's important that we take advantage of the opportunities afforded by citizens recording police bullying so we can actually push bad cops out of the force and push reforms.
posted by empath at 9:57 PM on April 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you see something like this happening, whip out your phone or camera and film away.

After all, as we're constantly being told: "If you see something, say something."
posted by Ghidorah at 12:10 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


My grandmother is racist. Anyone who thinks that grandmothers are not racist are fooling themselves.

Whatever you may believe about universal truths...there is one everyone should get behind.

"everyone has a racist grandmother"

If you feel that you don't they are just hiding it well. Really well. Or the racist one is deceased.

Im very serious about this.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:36 AM on April 18, 2011


Also cops suck. Sure they are the first people I would call...only because 911 doesn't give you the option of having another government-funded club show up when there is in emergency, but that doesn't mean they don't suck.

They all suck. To all of you who claim that there are "good cops", I don't buy it.

There are what you call "good cops" and what you and I both call "bad cops". Those bad cops are allowed to exist because the good cops let them get away with stuff that they shouldn't be allowed to. Because of that, they all suck.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:43 AM on April 18, 2011


everyone has a racist grandmother

What about grandfathers? And let's not forget, all mums are crazy, right?
posted by Summer at 1:58 AM on April 18, 2011


I still find it pretty damned shocking that one seems to be expected to carry ID in the "Land Of The Free".
posted by Decani at 2:50 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Comparing this specific unfortunate incident to increasingly terrible things is, in general, not a way for the conversation to stay civil. Can we please try not to keep upping the stakes?

Hey, I wasn't talking to you, officer!

I still find it pretty damned shocking that one seems to be expected to carry ID in the "Land Of The Free".

Everyone needs to wear dogtags.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:55 AM on April 18, 2011


This situation is interesting. On one hand there are those who are saying that the person arrested should have known better. On the other, this is the case of arresting someone for no reasonable reason. I think both arguments are not only valid, but correct.

Yes you should know how to "code switch." I thought this was a fundamental human lesson but it seems not everyone learns it. Act differently around different people and understand the stakes anytime you are dealing with other people. This really has nothing to do with cow-towing to authority. That is a completely different problem.

I have met a few police officers, in the real world, as real people, and they seemed no different than I. Well, perhaps more fit and less jaded. I know it's anecdotal, but I'd like to think that all police officers are human. In my time dealing with them in matters of the law, this revelation has served me well. However I do think there is a fundamental problem with the police/prison industrial complex that has escalated out of control of anybody.

I always think of the two works "protect" and "serve" when I think of what a police force should be. Their primary purpose should be to protect the citizens under their watch. I can see enforcing a law prohibiting biking on the sidewalk as doing that. Harassing someone who was cracking wise to someone else, not so much. As for the "serve" part, I see it as a noble profession. One that should ask for respect. It should be a career choice that one chooses when one wants to help the community and is willing to die to uphold that belief.

Cops shouldn't kill children with fake guns. Cops shouldn't taze crazy cracked out people. Cops shouldn't arrest people randomly for mouthing off.

Cops should sometimes get shot by children holding real guns. Cops should sometimes get punched or bitten or scratched by a crackhead. Cops should sometimes, nay always, be able to withstand a verbal barb without having to arrest someone.

If cops did this, they'd have my respect.
posted by chemoboy at 4:38 AM on April 18, 2011


... the two words, not works.

Also, yes, taze the crackheads. But leave the cracked out college students alone.
posted by chemoboy at 4:39 AM on April 18, 2011


I wish we could actually hear from the mouthy dude himself since this incident occurred. Maybe Owens will catch up to the guy.
posted by cashman at 5:32 AM on April 18, 2011


Yes you should know how to "code switch." I thought this was a fundamental human lesson but it seems not everyone learns it.

I don't assume that the guy didn't know how to talk to the police. In fact, I think the opposite: he knew how he was supposed to behave (subservient and like a fearful dog), and this day was the day he wasn't going to. I don't see that he committed any crimes, and he knew he wasn't breaking the law.

I don't know any black men who haven't had unfair experiences with the cops. No one knows better how to deal with cops. Last night I asked my dad if he'd ever been arrested (because he is a good man who obeys the law, but he's also a black man), and he told me when he was 13 he shouted "Rizzo is a putz" and was arrested, thrown into the paddy wagon, and beaten. Charged with "terroristic threats, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest" (sounds familiar). I have an older brother who is the most law-abiding person I know, and I have long feared that he would end up like the guy in this video (or worse). Because he's so righteous and knows his rights and the law, but black men are subject to a different law and a different justice system.
posted by Danila at 6:58 AM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know any black men who haven't had unfair experiences with the cops.

Define "unfair". My dealings have been ok, though admittedly I've never been arrested.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:16 AM on April 18, 2011


chemoboy: “Also, yes, taze the crackheads. But leave the cracked out college students alone.”

Is this a joke? I sort of hope it's a joke.
posted by koeselitz at 9:39 AM on April 18, 2011


whimsicalnymph : If a similar aged white dude joshed a similar aged white dude who was getting ticketed by the police for riding his bike on the sidewalk, do you think he would have been treated this way?

Yes, and I've actually seen it (with every participant replaced by whites). Cop stops a kid riding his skateboard on the sidewalk, and clearly just wants to let him off with a warning. Kid's friend makes a smartass comment much like what the FBG said in the link. Cop asks the friend if he wants trouble, and after a bit of back-and-forth escalation, it just goes downhill from there (with more friends and more police appearing, symbolic tearing-up of tickets, and eventually three of the kids tossed in cars and the rest dispersing after the threat of a group pepper-spraying). White kids, white cops, white area in general.

The police react swiftly and violently to any challenge to their authority, race makes no difference.
posted by pla at 10:06 AM on April 18, 2011


No matter what you think of the police, I am sure there is one thing we ALL agree on:

When filming video, hold the phone like THIS == and not like THIS []

God damn is that annoying to watch.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:16 AM on April 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think some people are missing the point. Yes, it's obvious, that the guy could have avoided arrest if he gave up his rights of free speech. And that's a smart response if you want to avoid arrest. But if *we* want change, so that unlawful arrests don't happen so routinely that our rights become merely theoretical, then someone is going to have to assert their rights at the risk of being arrested. That doesn't make the FBG stupid and unaware of the fact that he can avoid arrest. It is *us* who need the FBG to assert his rights as much as he does. To me, the analogy is Rosa Parks. Was she "stupid" for not just complying with unfair practices, because "that's the socio/political reality"? You could argue - and I'm sure many did - that she could have avoided all that trouble, had she just swallowed her dignity and debased herself as she's done all her life, along with millions of others. But then, she would have avoided the trouble, been "smart" and "street savvy", but *we* would have been the losers.

Now, I don't know if FBG signed up to be a hero or poster boy for civil rights, or was simply a man who was tired of living on his knees. But then again, maybe that question is also relevant to Rosa Parks. Either way, it's silly to keep pointing out how s/he could have avoided arrest. We all know that. The question is, what now? Will this be a turning point, something to rally around or yet another long line of tiny blips on the radar of an apathetic public. I can already hear the cynical cry of "surely this...!". But all this joking and dismissals and cynicism and apathy masquerading as world-weary wisdom did absolutely nothing to reduce the harm of the GWB years... or indeed, any evil that's happened in society ever across the globe. Maybe instead of pointing at the victims of abuse and clucking our tongues and blaming their insufficiently servile attitudes, we should do something about the real evil? What are we waiting for? A memo from Egypt?
posted by VikingSword at 11:46 AM on April 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


When filming video, hold the phone like THIS == and not like THIS []

Oddly enough, I have a device that I used infrequently enough for taking media, that I just learned that it is counterintuitive in that if you hold it sideways it takes longways media, and vice versa. Makes no sense to me, but maybe that's what happened here.
posted by cashman at 11:49 AM on April 18, 2011


But if *we* want change, so that unlawful arrests don't happen so routinely that our rights become merely theoretical, then someone is going to have to assert their rights at the risk of being arrested.

Indeed. So we have the spark, and certainly enough people have seen it.

Is this a joke? I sort of hope it's a joke.

Yes. After I reread my post it depressed me so I made light of it. It probably is too fine a line of joke and sarcasm for the internet so I now wish I hadn't.
posted by chemoboy at 12:36 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I cannot believe all the fucking apologists around here. You are all the fucking reason New York sucks now, you ounce-of-freedom-trading-for-a-pound-of-protection motherfuckers.
posted by Civil_Disobedient


Thank you for putting this much more succinctly than I could.
posted by Jim Slade at 1:32 PM on April 18, 2011


And today's NYPD scandal:
Report: Up To 400 NYPD Officers May Be Charged With Fixing Tickets.
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on April 18, 2011


stagewhisper, just wanted to thank you for your excellent and interesting comment.

In NYC the kind of comment the pedestrian made to the kid on the bike is classic humorous street banter. This city is known for it. By its nature it's irreverent.

Maybe the snarky banter was perceived by the bully cop/s as a sort of solidarity with the guy given the ticket -for diddlysquat- to fill the cops' ticket quota.

Or maybe it was because the bully cop/s wanted to be kowtowed to and nailing a guy biking from the street across the (almost totally vacant) pavement was not enough of a power rush and to fill their need to dominate some snarky guy had to be forced into abject, cuffed obedience.
posted by nickyskye at 4:26 PM on April 18, 2011


it's not immediately clear to me that this has anything to do with race, if for no other reason, as I said, than that the cop who got annoyed at this was himself black.

If it was a white guy mouthing off at a cop, there'd have been a tense, momentary stand-off and he'd have been allowed to move on, the annoyer shouting and muttering, the cop shaking his head. You don't immediately jump to three cars full of cops then haul their ass away unless that ass is not white.

He essentially told the cop to fuck off.

Aww, no wonder poor diddums decided the bad man needed to be deprived of his liberty and charged with multiple criminal offences. Next time he should order the concrete-frosted doughnut and harden the fuck up.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:03 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Coulda shoulda woulda, maybe. But!

FBG acted like a proper American. Respect! But damn, that boy ought to know better than to go acting all American and shit, with that complexion. WTF was he thinking? Can't be allowed!

Personally, I was more worried for the guy with the camera. It surprises me the cops didn't find reason to go after him. Maybe they'll get him in the revenge phase of the proceedings.
posted by Goofyy at 2:34 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps I missed it, but is there any way to contribute to a legal defense fund for FBG? If he goes to jail for telling a joke, I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
posted by chemoboy at 9:16 PM on April 19, 2011


I'm dim, but how does a bicycle citation work? It's not like driving a car, where you have to carry ID. How can they issue you a summons and make it stick?
posted by Eideteker at 12:01 PM on April 21, 2011


Oh, and as an Ivy League grad living in the ghetto (Harlem, not Bed Stuy, but we still get stop-and-frisks), I won't even think about participating in this discussion. Even if I am half-black.
posted by Eideteker at 12:04 PM on April 21, 2011


I'm dim, but how does a bicycle citation work? It's not like driving a car, where you have to carry ID. How can they issue you a summons and make it stick?

From my experience in DC, the police give you the easy way/hard way dilemma. You can either provide them with valid identification; or they will put the cuffs on you, leave your bike on the curb, and put you in central booking for 12-24 hours until your identity can be verified (they take your prints and check for priors or outstanding warrants). Some officers are more patient and flexible than others.
posted by peeedro at 9:08 PM on April 21, 2011


Why does a Princeton grad on a bike live in Bed Stuy?

"Mabel, what is that dangerous-looking man doing up here in the Upper East Side?"
posted by suedehead at 1:09 AM on April 22, 2011


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