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Historian arrested for jaywalking, after being assualted by Atlanta police.
January 9, 2007 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Historian assaulted then arrested for jaywalking in Atlanta. A historian at the "Historians against the war" conference in Atlanta was stopped for jaywalking. Being from the UK, he thanked the officer, then realized the officer didn’t have any name tag or identification. He asked to see the police officers identification, and the police officer took offense stating "See my Uniform!". The officer kicked the mans leg out, pushed him to the ground and handcuffed him. The police officer had 5 other police officers step on the historian causing bruises on his neck. After being in jail for 8 hours, he arranged 1000 dollar bail. He refused to accept a please bargain that would effect his green card, so the case was dropped.
posted by IronWolve (124 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
So, can anyone from the UK comment on this? Do police over in say London do the same thing, kick your legs out and have 5 cops arrest you for jaywalking?
posted by IronWolve at 12:36 PM on January 9, 2007


Of course not.
posted by muddgirl at 12:44 PM on January 9, 2007


Wow great question there IronWolve! Also, let me commend you on your use of the term "please bargain". And, while he may have taught at Oxford, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto is currently at Tufts in Medford, MA.
posted by Mister_A at 12:44 PM on January 9, 2007


More police professionalism.
posted by tackandgybe at 12:44 PM on January 9, 2007


I' ve lived in the UK and US. The agressivness of american police is sometimes unbelievable. No surprise the US has the biggest prison population of the world and is slowly heading to a poluice state ...
posted by homodigitalis at 12:45 PM on January 9, 2007


Policemen hiding incompetence and presumption behind menacing attitude, thinking they were beating some hippy news at 11.

Give a man some power he can easily abuse, watch what happens.

and is slowly heading to a poluice state ...

I wouldn't be so drastic, but if there is a failure is not to be found in policemen being abusive, it happens ,the failure is in people fearing authority and in their representative not tackling the issue , because people don't give them enough direct shit and instead complain "cops are bad" and that's all we often do.
posted by elpapacito at 12:49 PM on January 9, 2007


homo, we're not slowly heading toward one, we're IN one. It mostly doesn't show its fangs too much if you're white and middle class.

Yet.
posted by Malor at 12:50 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


First of all, who hasn't wanted to kick an historian? Second, what is the link between aggressive police and prison populations?
posted by found missing at 12:51 PM on January 9, 2007


True, you are the missing link !
posted by elpapacito at 12:52 PM on January 9, 2007


Damn, even your username has a jarring error in it. lol!
posted by autodidact at 12:53 PM on January 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


It was the American Historical Association conference, not the 'Historians against the war' conference. Did you read the link before you posted it?
posted by verstegan at 12:54 PM on January 9, 2007


I am interested to know what the complaints system for the police service in the US is like. In the UK we have a 2 tier system essentially where you complain first to the force then to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (which is basically a higher level investigative force to look at complaints against individual officers) if you're not satisfied. Does it vary from state to state? Would Fernandez-Armesto have any comeback from this? Or could he sue?

On the question above - what is the link between aggressive police and prison populations? - I suppose you could construct a tendentious link between a police force aggressively arresting and prosecuting for spurious offences and prison populations rising as a result of prison sentences being handed down for said spurious offences....
posted by greycap at 12:55 PM on January 9, 2007


First off, your recount of the events in the FPP are entirely different from how they appear in the article. In the article the whole "see my uniform?!" incident doesn't happen until he was in court, well after he was arrested. Also, your telling makes it seem like he was going to get off with a warning until he asked the officer for ID, who then took such offense that he screamed at and kicked to the ground the historian. This is also not how things go in the article, where the historian's arrest was certain and immediate, nor at all related to the conversation about the uniform.

Second, this is a highly biased re-telling of the incident; there's no material out there with the cops giving there side of the story you could link too?

Third, the article is biased enough, was all the editorializing in your FPP really nescessary? And did you really have to distort the truth in order to make your point? The cops' actions were already pretty egregious, and you certainly didn't have to take liberties with the truth in order to make them seem more so.

Fourth, this is quite dubious newsworthiness, let alone postworthiness.
posted by ChasFile at 12:56 PM on January 9, 2007


Dude, maybe the guy should have crossed the street legally. Ever think of that?
posted by dead_ at 12:58 PM on January 9, 2007


And yeah, where/how does the Iraq war ever come into play? I never see it mentioned in the article. What is the deal, here?
posted by ChasFile at 12:59 PM on January 9, 2007


Well half of amerika is in jail for jaywalking, greycap, you idiot.

/snark
posted by Mister_A at 12:59 PM on January 9, 2007


It's almost as if... history were being rewritten.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:59 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


His name is Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, author of the excellent book "Millennium",
and quite a quirky guy.

Dude, maybe the guy should have crossed the street legally. Ever think of that?

Dude! Totally! Duuude!
posted by gcbv at 1:01 PM on January 9, 2007


gcbv knows what I'm talkin' about.
posted by dead_ at 1:02 PM on January 9, 2007


What is a please bargin?
posted by b1tr0t at 1:04 PM on January 9, 2007


I think you meant "plea bargain"
posted by mrbill at 1:10 PM on January 9, 2007


ChasFil isn't correct either. Here is what the article said:
In court even the prosecutors seemed embarrassed by the incident, which got out of hand when Fernandez-Armesto requested to see the policeman's identification (the policeman was wearing a bomber jacket; to Fernandez-Armesto, a foreigner unfamiliar with American culture, the officer did not look like an officer).
posted by caddis at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2007


KNOW IT WAS PLEASE BARGE-IN DUMBASS!
posted by Mister_A at 1:11 PM on January 9, 2007


I guess its copy and paste from boingboing day.
posted by uni verse at 1:13 PM on January 9, 2007


Hey chasfile watch the video, he states it there. So, maybe your the one who is slanted? Did I irk your attitude to protect police? I didnt see you state anything supportive of the historian. Take a look at yourself.

Also the "Historians for War" was a side group at the conference, I got that mixed up, my mistake.
posted by IronWolve at 1:14 PM on January 9, 2007


Uni, i didnt get it from boingboing. But cool.
posted by IronWolve at 1:15 PM on January 9, 2007


Yes, maybe your the one.
posted by found missing at 1:15 PM on January 9, 2007


I have to admit it, you did irk my attitude.
posted by found missing at 1:17 PM on January 9, 2007


What ChasFile said, and in a fpp with such heavy editorializing, how about some idea of how you would change things. Vote Democrat? If I remember correctly, Clinton increased the number of police in America.
posted by vronsky at 1:18 PM on January 9, 2007


Maybe muddling things in the attempt to shed light, but...

I've known off-duty police officers to take jobs doing security work where they wear a generic uniform with no identification (badge, name plate) visible, but I've never heard of uniformed law enforcement on normal street duty not having some kind of name plate or numbered badge visible unless weather requires them to wear a coat or jacket that covers the uniform shirt, which is where the badge and name tag are usually visible. 65 degree wx stated; can't say for sure if cops I see have badges visible, but when I've been to Atlanta, the cops I saw then (warm spring day/nite) certainly did.

Moreover: I've actually been stopped and ticketed for jaywalking, (the fine wasn't much -- this is over 25 years ago in Milwaukee) but I've never heard of somebody getting arrested for it. Mostly I've seen verbal warnings, some of 'em a little on the curt and direct side, but not really abusive -- "Hey, don't cross there, it's not safe! Go down to crosswalk and wait for the light like everybody else" -- that sort of thing. The only time I've had dealings with an actual uniformed Atlanta cop, she was helpful where a concert security guy was being a badgeheavy dick and not answering a simple inquiry about where to wait for somebody after a show.

Wonder what else might've been said and how it came across -- cops are people too, and they usually respond pretty positively to thanks and rarely worse than neutrally to innocent questions about uniforms and such -- for me, anyway. I've seen people get all defensive or snotty and act like pricks in front of cops too, and while they have some training to put up with that, you usually have to work at it a little to go from asking a cop a simple question to winding up in cuffs and treated like you're resisting arrest.

Who knows -- maybe the cop's wife had just announced the previous evening that she was leaving him for a Hispanic academic with a UK accent? "Cops are dicks" is an easy answer, but the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.
posted by pax digita at 1:21 PM on January 9, 2007


I LUV TEH POLICEZ Y U IRKIN MY ATTITOOD?
posted by Mister_A at 1:22 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


And how do you suppose that this case would "effect" his green card anyway? Do you really think it would cause his green card to come into being? And would that be so bad?
posted by Mister_A at 1:29 PM on January 9, 2007


greycap writes: I am interested to know what the complaints system for the police service in the US is like.

It's often something like this (the video will appear on the right hand of the screen). (Though practices vary greatly from state to stage and city to city).

Chasfile writes (angrily): First off, your recount of the events in the FPP are entirely different from how they appear in the article. In the article the whole "see my uniform?!" incident doesn't happen until he was in court, well after he was arrested.

Chasfile is incorrect in this criticism, which can be confirmed by watching the Youtube video linked to by the post.
posted by washburn at 1:33 PM on January 9, 2007


Did I irk your attitude to protect police? I didnt see you state anything supportive of the historian. Take a look at yourself.

Buddy, I am no friend of the police, as just about anyone who knows me can tell you. I know you think you are striking a great blow against all us half-awake dead to the world order-following sheep who are too blindly caught up in 9/11 "patriotism" to notice that we are living under the iron rule of the new blue gestapo, but it ain't me, babe. So no, it wasn't my attitude towards police you irked, its my attitude toward rationality and fairness (something both you and the police share a dearth of in this case)

As to your second point, I'm not defending the historian because I think that particular angle got covered pretty darn well here already. One more voice rallying behind the poor beleaguered professor hardly seemed necessary. Also, I'm not the one making an FPP; its not my responsibility to try to present the facts of an event as honestly and fairly as I can. When you post "news" to the front page, there is something of a "no-editorializing" group conscience we've established here that requires you to at least pay lip-service to both sides of a story. Its your wanton disregard both for the standards of this community and even the appearance of propriety and desire to be fair to people and to the truth that is the problem, not whatever attitudes I may or may not have toward the police. You just simply don't seem to care.

But irk? No, you don't irk me. You don't really mean much of anything to me.

Finally, quit thread-modding. It is cowardice defined.
posted by ChasFile at 1:44 PM on January 9, 2007 [3 favorites]


I guess its copy and paste from boingboing day.
posted by uni verse at 4:13 PM EST on January 9 [+][!]


C'mon uni verse, why don't you put up the Cheating Gambler post?
posted by caddis at 1:47 PM on January 9, 2007


washburn writes (snidely):
Chasfile writes (angrily): First off, your recount of the events in the FPP are entirely different from how they appear in the article. In the article the whole "see my uniform?!" incident doesn't happen until he was in court, well after he was arrested.

Chasfile is incorrect in this criticism, which can be confirmed by watching the Youtube video linked to by the post.


Huh? How do I come off as angry? I'm sorry if I do, but its not the case. As I just stated, none of this means anything to me. I was just trying to point out that the OP seemed to be distoring the truth in order to make a point, though what that point is or why it needed distortions to make still seem unclear. If anything, I think the OP comes off in this thread as positively fuming!

And why do you feel the need to signal what you think my affect was? Can't you let my words speak for themselves? Isn't that the whole point of quoting someone before you respond to them?

This is all just getting way too bizarre. I'm climbing out of the rabbit whole before I get stuck down here for good.
posted by ChasFile at 1:48 PM on January 9, 2007


NWA, etc
posted by matteo at 1:50 PM on January 9, 2007


Oh great. Now you've really irked his attitude.
posted by found missing at 1:51 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


cops are people too

Yeah, people with guns, incredibly thin skins, and a cast-iron sense of authority: people should do exactly what they say, when they say it, with a shit-eating grin and a "Thank you, officer, and have a good day!" or wind up in the slammer. Sure, if it's a bullshit arrest it'll get thrown out, but meanwhile the cop will have that comforting sense of not having let some asshole make a fool of him and the non-perp will have learned a lesson about deference to authority. And right-thinking observers will justify it all by pointing out that cops are people too, and sometimes they have bad days. Hey, dictators are people too! Let's have a little empathy for the lonely guy at the top!
posted by languagehat at 1:57 PM on January 9, 2007 [16 favorites]


It is remarkable how both sides of the debate in this thread manage to do their causes such disservice.
posted by chinston at 1:58 PM on January 9, 2007


Cant have a normal discussion on mefi without it breaking down, sad....
posted by IronWolve at 2:06 PM on January 9, 2007



How did it come to pass that Jaywalking laws exist and what other countries have them.

Do they apply to only specific roads, or times of day ?
posted by matholio at 2:07 PM on January 9, 2007


Cant have a normal discussion on mefi without it breaking down, sad....

Not when you start out with such bait. What did you expect, 100+ comments about how much police suck? another 20+ about how historians can do no wrong?

Tangentially, there should be a fill-in field for flags. I'm forced to use "other" when I really want "wtf?" or "gawd, this will not go well, and should be nuked from orbit."

matholio - I learned in California State driving school that you can cross the street in the middle of the street (jaywalk) if there isn't a cross-walk at an intersection at either end, or if the nearest intersection with a crosswalk is a certain number of feet away (I don't know what that number is).
posted by muddgirl at 2:14 PM on January 9, 2007


On the days after the professor's ordeal, the Atlanta police were continuing to stop historians from jaywalking. Anybody caught crossing the street against the light was reprimanded. Many were asked to produce their driver's license. But police did not arrest anybody. Some historians were mildly amused by the attentiveness of the police to the crime of jaywalking.

Is there some sort of epidemic of academic jaywalking in the US right now?
Are they perhaps in some sort of civil disobedience campaign, to protest the war?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:15 PM on January 9, 2007


This is just a symptom of how crazy this country is. Hey guys, the American system is complete shit. I was in Europe over new years and the contrast was so striking. In the countries I visited (Germany, Switzerland, Czech Rep), the trash ends up in the garbage—people don't seem to litter. The public toilets are kept clean and do not reflect an expression of the individual’s antagonism with society, as they seem to do in America. People line up on the right side of the escalator to let others pass. The subways and trams operate on an honor system—rarely does anyone check whether you’ve bought a ticket. There seems to be a greater sense of public investment in the well-being of the society and a more pervasive commitment to the social contract. Accordingly, the police have a different relationship to the populace. In Europe, the state exists for the benefit of the people.

Compare this to my hometown of New York, where the population is treated like cheats and criminals. Patches of grass, not to mention subway entrances, are barred or walled off. In America the state exists to protect wealth and to intimidate and reinforce power relationships.

But then my guess is that city planners in NYC are correct to assume nobody would pay for the subway unless forced to do so. Whatever civic spirit exists in the Unites States is relegated to the space of the naïve or the religious.

One explanation (albeit an unpopular one) is that the absence of cultural homogeneity makes us all strangers to the state. We are all living in a strange land. The melting pot—our alleged source of our strength—is one of our great burdens. Here's an interesting link from a conservative source.
posted by mert at 2:18 PM on January 9, 2007


Heheh.

"I come from a land where one is allowed to cross the stret wherever you like..."


The nerve of the guy!! In the land of the free, no less.
posted by dash_slot- at 2:19 PM on January 9, 2007


Maybe they get a cut of the fines ? An increased funding because of higher "crime rate" in statistics ? Because there's a group of assholes posing as cops ?
posted by elpapacito at 2:20 PM on January 9, 2007


The concept of "jaywalking" does not exist in the UK. We cross the road where we damn well please.
posted by mr. strange at 2:21 PM on January 9, 2007


Why is jaywalking such an "American" offence? I mean, if applied in France, Italy or the UK, the entire nation would be in prison. I am reminded of Alexis De Tocqueville's statements about the conformities and petty tyrannies of American life when I read of such. Another favourite is stepping across the line at Immigration Control in US airports.
posted by A189Nut at 2:22 PM on January 9, 2007


Police brutality stories are never fair & balanced.

News outlets rely on the cops for breaking news, fires, crime, etc.

News outlets only use the police press releases for their "facts" when reporting a story.

Let there be no doubt- the U.S. IS a police state. The media here does what it can to make people think otherwise.
posted by wfc123 at 2:23 PM on January 9, 2007


I've known off-duty police officers to take jobs doing security work where they wear a generic uniform with no identification (badge, name plate) visible, but I've never heard of uniformed law enforcement on normal street duty not having some kind of name plate or numbered badge visible unless weather requires them to wear a coat or jacket that covers the uniform shirt, which is where the badge and name tag are usually visible. 65 degree wx stated; can't say for sure if cops I see have badges visible, but when I've been to Atlanta, the cops I saw then (warm spring day/nite) certainly did.

Seriously? Cops in NY and on Long Island fail to wear their name badges all the time. I've made a point of looking whenever I see a cop up close. They're supposed to wear them at all times. They're also supposed to give a civilian that information if asked. Ha.
posted by etaoin at 2:30 PM on January 9, 2007


cops equated with dicatators when it's suggested that they might be regarded as something other than The Other...and by somebody who seems better educated than I am, too. Sigh.

Like I told an ex-LE buddy of mine about this thread: Posting an anti-cop FPP on MeFi is like tossing a bucket of bloody meat into a cageful of starved Rottweilers -- just as predictable, and just as nice to watch.
posted by pax digita at 2:44 PM on January 9, 2007


I love how whenever there is a story about alleged police brutality, someone always pipes up "Well so-and-so shouldn't have been breaking the law in the first place". It's so completely irrelevant, and ignores so many facets of what we consider a just society (innocent until proven guilty, punishment fitting the crime, punishments being meted out by courts, not cops, etc). I'm just waiting for the day when some guy is bludgeoned to death by police for speeding, and someone says, "Yeah, that's why I follow the speed limit. Fucker shouldn't have been going 85 in the first place."

It's especially disturbing when you consider that in most places, all kinds of laws are on the books that could get most of us in trouble at any time. If any infraction opens the perpetrator up for any treatment by the police at any time, then anyone who lives in the south and has sexual practices other than "married & missionary-position", might want to start living in fear.
posted by crackingdes at 2:53 PM on January 9, 2007


Posting an anti-cop FPP on MeFi is like

Posting a pro-liberal on LGF or FP ? Gimme a fucking break, here you are allowed to express your opinion and somebody will even challenge your opinion instead of saying "you a stupid moron! LOL *bump* ROFLMAO

I once posted on LGF an opinon expressing my disagreement with Bush policy...15 min later I had the forum admin posting my IP, attempting to tell my whereabouts , they tought they'd scared me :) ! They were so mad it was funny :D ! Yet it was a clear intimidation technique + characters assassination attempt by painting me as "Unamerican" . Fuck that shit, not a word against my argument, only a torrent of LOL.

SO yeah discussion on cops easily turn into flamewars, even here? But at least the signal/noise ratio is good.
posted by elpapacito at 2:57 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've never heard of somebody getting arrested for it.

He didn't get arrested for jaywalking. He got arrested for protesting (and for being brown south of the Mason-Dixon). And that, mainly because there weren't many credible witnesses around.

He needs to file a lawsuit. Like this:
So, bringing the World Trade Organization meeting here in 1999 is likely to cost Seattle millions. Can't say we didn't have it coming.

posted by Twang at 2:59 PM on January 9, 2007


Dude, maybe the guy should have crossed the street legally. Ever think of that?

Yeah! Ever *kick* think *stomp* of that? *knee*

Huh? I'm asking you a question! *boot*

[leans over] EVER THINK OF THAT? *kick* *kick* *kick*
posted by bwg at 3:05 PM on January 9, 2007


He's a jaywalking denier who was atending the jaywalking denial conference.
posted by fixedgear at 3:06 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Another WTO aftermath article lists
the costs Seattle has already incurred ($800,000 this summer alone) ... + this parallel:

"In another incident, officers jumped anti-globalization activist Victor Menotti and hauled him off to jail. They claimed he was blocking traffic even though he was standing on the sidewalk. Menotti said he's using some of the $65,000 he collected to pay for his daughter's braces."

15 or more years ago, Minneapolis gave a couple of indian guys a ride downtown in the trunk of their squad. The guys got $500,000 each.

[If I could have, I'd have added this onto my previous comment ... when will we get re-editing on MF?]
posted by Twang at 3:07 PM on January 9, 2007


when will we get re-editing on MF?
Um, never, thankfully.
posted by muddgirl at 3:10 PM on January 9, 2007


greycap : I am interested to know what the complaints system for the police service in the US is like.


The biggest difference to remember is that the US does not have a police service --- the US has thousands of local police forces. Every small town, suburb, university, county, state, and so on has it's own police force, with its own rules and regulations for dealing with complaints. So there is no single complaints system. (Improving citizen oversight has often been a component of federal and state involvement in fixing broken city police forces, with varying degrees of success.)

I'm not sure if there is any other major country that has followed the US's approach to policing, choosing to have no national police force in favor of a system of overlapping local jurisdictions. (The closest the US has to a national police force would be the FBI or maybe the Marshals, but they have next to no presence anywhere --- most people will only ever see them on TV.) The disadvantage is the lack of oversight --- an abusive local police force can operate for a long time, and get away with a lot. The advantage is, of course, the lack of oversight. As a citizen, there is no effective national police coordination to bring to bear to repress me, or my political movement, or whatever might need repressing from the government's perspective.

Really, it's much the same thing as schools --- most of the world has nationally-controlled cirricula, and often schools and teachers will be funded and operated by the national government. The US has, in contrast, locally-determined cirricula, and local funding and operations of schools. It's easy to critique, but there are some real advantages as well.
posted by Forktine at 3:11 PM on January 9, 2007


I was under the impression that "jaywalking" was crossing on a red not crossing where there isn't an intersection. Am I wrong? If so, what do people do in places where there are no intersection for miles?
posted by dobbs at 3:13 PM on January 9, 2007


Why is jaywalking such an "American" offence?

Maybe because walking is seen as an abnormal, unusual way to get around, and jaywalking is a possible danger to the our natural means of transportation through four wheels and internal combustion?

It's a pretty local/regional thing. No one cares much about it here in Louisville, for instance. On many major roads in the suburbs it's risky to walk at all (no sidewalk, no shoulder, 55 mph speed limit) and insane to try to cross at a crosswalk in those places - much safer to go across in the middle of the road where nothing will fly around the corner at you.
posted by dilettante at 3:13 PM on January 9, 2007


wow, you all sure like to hear your selve's talk.
i've looked and i can't find so much as an AP article about this story, just lots of blog entries linking to this same post.

can anyone else find something concrete? if so i would like to read it, cause i'm kind of sick of hear nothing but total speculation and axe grinding.
no matter what the facts of the incident are, we can't even begin to discuss this topic , cause we have no facts. like a press release for one thing, from the city. even a dumb drywall hanger knows that.
posted by nola at 3:20 PM on January 9, 2007


mert, I would say that we're not really a melting pot so much as a stew pot. We're not a people "united" except by force, really.
posted by Foosnark at 3:20 PM on January 9, 2007


Twang writes "He didn't get arrested for jaywalking. He got arrested for protesting (and for being brown south of the Mason-Dixon). And that, mainly because there weren't many credible witnesses around."

What the hell are you talking about? These comments seem completely unrelated to the actual event. Protesting? Brown? WTF?!
posted by mr_roboto at 3:21 PM on January 9, 2007


I have personally witnessed a co-worker (a privilaged white male, for what it's worth) getting a jaywalking ticket only 10 blocks north of there on Peachtree St. The Atlanta PD has always had a rather inexplicable hard-on for jaywalkers. Maybe it's because of Margaret Mitchell (she was killed while jaywalking), I dunno.
posted by deadmessenger at 3:23 PM on January 9, 2007


Im glad we are being protected from terrorist jaywalkers by the brutal police state.
posted by MrLint at 3:24 PM on January 9, 2007


Yes I was wondering about why Twang thought he was brown...
posted by ob at 3:37 PM on January 9, 2007


I have personally witnessed a co-worker (a privilaged white male, for what it's worth) getting a jaywalking ticket only 10 blocks north of there on Peachtree St. The Atlanta PD has always had a rather inexplicable hard-on for jaywalkers. Maybe it's because of Margaret Mitchell (she was killed while jaywalking), I dunno.

I'm going to make a guess here and state that the cops were enforcing the jaywalking laws to try and protect the Historians.

If you jaywalk in Atlanta, you take your life in your hands. People warp through downtown Atlanta at 50+ mph, and don't give a fuck about pedestrians. If some historian from some other pedestrian friendly town steps into traffic thinking that the nice, friendly southern folks will show some hospitality and stop for him, he'd be dead wrong.

I used to run on surface streets in this city... I stopped after my 9th or 10th close call with death. Atlanta citizens in cars will go quite out of their way to make a point to any and all pedestrians that they DO own the damn road, thank you very much.
posted by BobFrapples at 3:40 PM on January 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Menotti said he's using some of the $65,000 he collected to pay for his daughter's braces.15 or more years ago, Minneapolis gave a couple of indian guys a ride downtown in the trunk of their squad. The guys got $500,000 each.
Even if they got one zillion or one dollar, that still wouldn't repair this
In their pleadings, the plaintiffs assert that their illegal arrest not only deprived them of their freedom, but "they were kept (in jail) for several days -- until the WTO conference had left town -- and the ability to protest that conference effectively had passed.
Some could argue that, after all, their being abused by cop turned into a monetary benefit, something one would hardly dismiss as -worthless- . So after all they got they worth back.

But it is NOT a reparation : I can offer you $100 if you don't do something..tomorrow $10 ...they they after tomorrow, I will offer you not being beaten with a stick by a cop on a horse and a free bus ticket to go back home and a sandwich.

Interstingly, prosecutors attempted to obtain a "nolo plea" but the guy was smart enough and probably with enough money to afford to buy a good lawyer help and fight back. I applaud him for that , but I am not so sure it was a good not to sue. What happens to the record of the guys who most likely applied way too much force ? What happens to their commanding officiers ?
posted by elpapacito at 3:42 PM on January 9, 2007


Of course not. [link to article about Jean Charles de Menezes]

Okay, it sucked for that guy, but one person getting shot by the UK police is national news for months, almost as big as a terrorist attack. Here it might make the local TV for a couple days.
posted by delmoi at 3:43 PM on January 9, 2007


"south of the mason-dixon line" or put another way , people in the south are more likely than not, racist "brown" haters.
thats kind of what i took him to mean.

it's not the first time i've heard, myself and the people i live with , derided for being southern, here on metafilter, as an aside from an unrealted point trying to be made. kind of like saying , "what do you expect, he's a dumb redneck" that kind of thing.
posted by nola at 3:52 PM on January 9, 2007


It's especially disturbing when you consider that in most places, all kinds of laws are on the books that could get most of us in trouble at any time.

Dumb laws.
posted by ericb at 3:56 PM on January 9, 2007


like a press release for one thing, from the city. even a dumb drywall hanger knows that.

Well, cities generally issue press releases for every single arrest they make...
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM on January 9, 2007


can anyone find something concrete?
posted by nola at 4:27 PM on January 9, 2007


we can't even begin to discuss this topic , cause we have no facts - nola

That there is a pic of the decidedly pasty-faced chap there. On the floor, surrounded by cops (that one with the white shirt seems to have over inflated his stab-proof vest).

He got arrested for protesting (and for being brown south of the Mason-Dixon) - twang
I don't think so. That seems a stretch - see above pic and video.

I'm going to make a guess here and state that the cops were enforcing the jaywalking laws to try and protect the Historians. - BobFrapples

Heheh. To protect the village, we had to destroy it.

I'm not sure if there is any other major country that has followed the US's approach to policing, choosing to have no national police force in favor of a system of overlapping local jurisdictions.
The UK has a variety of local & regional Police Forces, and a new national force limited to Serious Organised Crime.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:34 PM on January 9, 2007


nola writes "can anyone find something concrete?"

What do you mean "concrete"? Did you watch the interview? He tells the story in great detail. Do you not find him credible?
posted by mr_roboto at 4:35 PM on January 9, 2007


muddgirl: "Of course not."

So Atlanta has just seen a string of terrorist explosions and this historian was actually a suspected terrorist who just happened to be jaywalking?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:40 PM on January 9, 2007


nola:
did you check Google News at all?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:40 PM on January 9, 2007


I hope he gets a couple million bucks off the assholes.

But Atlanta cops are not normally much trouble since they have a real job with real criminals. Why they would harass a guy in a buisness suit is beyond me. What you gotta worry about is those idiots from small towns.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:42 PM on January 9, 2007


yeah i saw the photo dash, i'm not doubting he was arrested , or at least as the picture demonstrates made to sit prone by law enforcement. what i am asking is; do we have any more information other than this post , his statement, and a long list of blog posts pointing back to that webpage?

i would seriously like to see a news article about it from , i don't know , cnn, or some other news outlet.

checked The Atlanta Journal-Constitution can't find anything on this story. i'm not very good at this sort of thing , but i thought there were people on metafilter that were, good at finding information. live and learn.
posted by nola at 4:47 PM on January 9, 2007


on preview: mr roboto, i don't doubt his word, i just wish i could hear the facts from everyone involved.

dash, no i have not , i'll try. thanks.
posted by nola at 4:48 PM on January 9, 2007


dash_slot- : The UK has a variety of local & regional Police Forces

Yeah, but there's a national Independent Police Complaints Commission, unlike in the US, as Forktime and greycap were saying.

For a potentially boring topic, Wikipedia's List of UK Police Forces actually turns out to contain some nuggets of interestingness — I had no idea that Cambridge University still has a police force.
posted by matthewr at 4:50 PM on January 9, 2007


Better link to Google News (ie, one that works...)
posted by dash_slot- at 4:51 PM on January 9, 2007


is this the link you were trying to post dash? i couldn't get your link to work.
posted by nola at 4:51 PM on January 9, 2007


thanks, reading it.
posted by nola at 4:52 PM on January 9, 2007


“I must say I didn’t get to experience the Southern hospitality I’d heard so much about,” he said

awsome, and this is why the south gets a bad name.
posted by nola at 4:54 PM on January 9, 2007


matthewr -

indeed and we've only just gotten rid of ours in Oxford.

Now there's a thought...how many Police Forces have ever been disbanded, eh?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:59 PM on January 9, 2007


Can anyone recommend an easily-concealable sound recorder for future interactions with law enforcement? I'm not kidding.
posted by kid ichorous at 5:04 PM on January 9, 2007


i'm going to see if i can't send him a bottle of bourbon, to show him what the southern hospitality i wish he had received.
posted by nola at 5:07 PM on January 9, 2007


http://chronicle.com/news/article/1492/atlanta-police-protect-historians-meeting-from-rogue-jaywalkers

Looks legit enough.
posted by IronWolve at 5:07 PM on January 9, 2007


I saw the guy getting arrested. I was a couple of feet away when he mouthed off to the cop, asking the police officer to show him identification. The police officer looked flabnergasted at hearing the question. Cops don't like being wised off to, and this one overreacted.
posted by LarryC at 5:10 PM on January 9, 2007


thanks for the post ironwolve, and the follow up to my question.

you too larryc.
posted by nola at 5:24 PM on January 9, 2007


languagehat congealed my thoughts on all the asshole-cop sympathizers out there. thanks.
posted by tehloki at 5:31 PM on January 9, 2007


I'm sorry he was treated this way, but I work on this street and jaywalking is a problem. I'm glad the police are at least stopping people to tell them not to jaywalk. There are plenty of crosswalks and pedestrian bridges (satellite view of area) between the hotels and office buildings that he could have used.

The Atlanta police have been a little overzealous recently. He's lucky he's not an old woman, he may have been shot and killed by the Atlanta police.
posted by Frank Grimes at 5:33 PM on January 9, 2007


Frank Grimes, if 'jaywalking' is such a problem, how do the UK and France get by, where it's legal?
posted by matthewr at 5:37 PM on January 9, 2007


I should add that my linked comment above is NOT me, it is just a discussion board I visit and I thought the eyewitness account was worth adding here.
posted by LarryC at 5:37 PM on January 9, 2007


the countries I visited (Germany, Switzerland, Czech Rep), the trash ends up in the garbage—people don't seem to litter. The public toilets are kept clean and do not reflect an expression of the individual’s antagonism with society, as they seem to do in America. People line up on the right side of the escalator to let others pass. The subways and trams operate on an honor system—rarely does anyone check whether you’ve bought a ticket. There seems to be a greater sense of public investment in the well-being of the society and a more pervasive commitment to the social contract. Accordingly, the police have a different relationship to the populace. In Europe, the state exists for the benefit of the people.

I fear you need to visit other European countries. Amsterdamers do not pick up their dogs' business, Romans cluster rather than queue, and Germans tend not to notice when they shoulder their way past you on the sidewalk. I love most European countries, but paradise they ain't. (Yeah, I know- I'm generalizing. But then, so is just about every other comment so far.)

The question of police attitude is interesting, though. I've met Italians south of Naples who were nostalgic for Mussolini simply because he got rid of the goddam mafia- not a lot of anti-cop sentiment there. A quick google search comes up with nothing obvious on prevailing attitudes toward law enforcement these days. Anyone know of anything? Or have personal observations?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:47 PM on January 9, 2007


What’s the frequency, Kenneth?
posted by Smedleyman at 5:55 PM on January 9, 2007


(Non American police attitude, I mean. Sorry if not clear.)
posted by IndigoJones at 5:56 PM on January 9, 2007


Is there some sort of epidemic of academic jaywalking in the US right now?
Are they perhaps in some sort of civil disobedience campaign, to protest the war?


Quick note about this: consider that, in regions where jaywalking is a ticketable offense, the responsibility for an accident falls on the head of the pedestrian, if that pedestrian was jaywalking. The drivers in the region, meanwhile, have reduced responsibility and an expectation that people will not be jaywalking*.

So, if an area has a lot of persons visiting from out of the region (like, say, a convention center) were to unknowingly step off the curb in front of a vehicle driven by a person not expecting a jaywalker, you'd have a high chance of pedestrian fatality.

If there were *any* place that I would want to see jaywalking laws heavily enforced, it would be in just such a circumstance: to protect the large number of out-of-region people who are congregating at a location, and who are likely ignorant of the jaywalking law.

*not arguing whether this is a good thing or a bad thing; it just is.
posted by davejay at 6:07 PM on January 9, 2007


1. I think the hotel could have put up "no jaywalking" signs, instead of hiring off-duty cops.
2. Atlanta cops need Interpersonal Conflict Management training.
3. An apology from the Mayor and the police officer to the AHA and Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.

Or maybe a Hug.
posted by IronWolve at 6:22 PM on January 9, 2007


now we see the violence inherent in the system!
posted by brevator at 6:40 PM on January 9, 2007


Quick note about this: consider that, in regions where jaywalking is a ticketable offense, the responsibility for an accident falls on the head of the pedestrian, if that pedestrian was jaywalking. The drivers in the region, meanwhile, have reduced responsibility and an expectation that people will not be jaywalking*.


Disagree. You can get a ticket jaywalking in Oakland, if the cops feel like it. It doesn't mean drivers have any diminished responsibility as far as squishing pedestrians goes; it means the City of Oakland would like more ways of making money from their citizens and more leverage to fuck with people if it chooses.

The illegality of jaywalking certainly doesn't stop anyone from jaywalking, and any Oakland driver that has any expectation that the streets will be clear of jaywalkers, refrigerators, or people driving on the wrong side of the road is living a delicious fantasy.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:45 PM on January 9, 2007


Here are some cites from Nexis:

British historian arrested for jaywalking in Atlanta, The Associated Press State & Local Wire, January 9, 2007 Tuesday 8:28 AM GMT, , STATE AND REGIONAL, 441 words, ATLANTA

2. British scholar jailed for jaywalking; Atlanta incident 'extremely traumatic', The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 9, 2007 Tuesday, Main Edition, METRO NEWS; Pg. 1B, 548 words, CHRISTIAN BOONE; Staff

3. His crime: jaywalking, The Boston Globe, January 9, 2007 Tuesday, FIRST EDITION, LIVINGARTS; Pg. C2, 747 words, CAROL BEGGY & MARK SHANAHAN - Geoff Edgers of the Globe staff contributed.
posted by etaoin at 6:45 PM on January 9, 2007


All I know is that jaywalking is not a violent office. It doesn't require handcuffing and knocking over and bruising. Blah blah blah, cops are stressed out, blah blah blah, just doing their jobs, blah blah blah, he shouldn't have whatever.

Violence needs to be reserved to meet violence, period (and let's not kid ourselves that knocking a person over and handcuffing them isn't violent). If a cop can't understand that, he needs to be off the force, 'cause I sure don't want him with a gun.
posted by adipocere at 6:48 PM on January 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, in Arkansas anyway, the jaywalking law makes it illegal to cross the street not in a crosswalk (or at an intersection) only if you are within 100 feet of an intersection or crosswalk, so if you're more than 100 feet from a crosswalk or an intersection with its implied crosswalks, you're legal, so long as you yield to traffic on the road.

Regardless, if you're not at an intersection or within a crosswalk, you are to yield to oncoming vehicular traffic, no matter how far it is to the next intersection. Drivers still are occasionally charged with involuntary manslaughter for running down pedestrians who should have yielded to them. The only time I found that particularly ridiculous was the driver who was charged who struck a pedestrian who was crossing a controlled access highway at night, on a curve.

Even with the officer's conduct portrayed in the best light, I think it's ridiculous that the situation ended as it did. What need did the officer have for the professor's identity? Should the officer have chosen to arrest him because he didn't have his passport on him?
posted by wierdo at 6:59 PM on January 9, 2007


It mostly doesn't show its fangs too much if you're white and middle class

Sweet! I can jaywalk to my hearts content I guess.
It seems kind of odd to me that the police had such a presence at an historian convention. Did they expect that such a group was going to raise caine or something?

I can see it now. Early morning briefing in the station...
Men, don your body armor and take extra ammo. The historians are in town.
NO! SWEET MOTHER OF GOD!! NOOOOOOOOO! Oh the humanity !!!

hehehehe
posted by a3matrix at 7:13 PM on January 9, 2007


The subways and trams operate on an honor system—rarely does anyone check whether you’ve bought a ticket.

I'm sorry, but did you not pay any attention when you were in the subway? You're just wrong on this point. It's not an honor system—they can and do check pretty frequently (how frequently does depend on the city). In most German cities, not paying your fare is a crime. In Frankfurt, the regular fare is just over €2, and if you are caught riding without a valid ticket, the fare that you must pay is at least €60, and you can be subjected to additional fines and penalties because you've broken the law.

At least one U.S. transit network has a similar setup.
posted by oaf at 8:40 PM on January 9, 2007


That picture looks terrible.
posted by hadjiboy at 8:46 PM on January 9, 2007


In most German cities, not paying your fare is a crime.

That has nothing to do with the city, it's national law.

But it's really no big deal unless you get caught without a ticket several times. And in most places they don't check that often, so it is an honor system to a certain extent.
posted by snownoid at 9:36 PM on January 9, 2007


And in most places they don't check that often, so it is an honor system to a certain extent.

This is true. I spent a month in Munich, riding the subway or the streetcar multiple times every day, and never got checked. We were warned about it. In about two months in Frankfurt, I was checked on the subway at least twice, and on the S-Bahn to Wiesbaden (apparently some people were checked twice by the same guy). I was checked once in the long weekend I spent in Berlin.

My point was really that it's not an honor system like paying for admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, for instance.
posted by oaf at 9:47 PM on January 9, 2007


Here in Boston it is illegal to "jaywalk." The very term was first applied here -- "the Bostonian ... has reduced 'a pedestrian who crosses streets in disregard of traffic signals' to the compact 'jaywalking.'" -- June 1917 Harper's Bazaar Magazine).

The Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 18A stipulates a fine of $1.00 for the transgression.

However, since there is no identification card or license required for "pedestrians" or "walkers," there is no way for a poilceman to establish the true identity of the "law-breaker." ("I'm sorry officer I have no identity on me. My name? I am Samuel Adams. Maybe you have heard of me? I have a brewery here in Boston.")

So -- when in Boston, do as the "Romans do" -- cross where/whenever you wish. Feel free to "flip-the-bird" to the driver who honks at you as you traverse Mass. Ave. at Newbury Street -- especially when the traffic light before you shines "red."
posted by ericb at 10:12 PM on January 9, 2007


My partner got a jaywalking ticket once, in Glendale, California. He was on his lunch break from work, wearing business attire, and white.

They always say that driving is a priveledge. It seems to me, therefore, that walking is a right, and the government has no business at any time supporting the priveledged class driving over the those exercising their right to walk.

While the specific issue of jaywalking does show a reasonable government interest (safety), it is still at the expense of pedestrians for drivers.
posted by Goofyy at 10:26 PM on January 9, 2007


Dude, maybe the guy should have crossed the street legally. Ever think of that?

I estimate that there are approximately ten people in the whole of outside-of-the-USA who even know what jaywalking is. My walk to get lunch involves waiting to cross a six lane highway by the entrance to an underpass which goes under the road, climbing over the barrier in the middle and getting to the pavement on the otherside by the entrance to the largest police station in my city. If one of the several policemen in the vicinity approached me at this point my first thought would be to check if my dick was hanging out, not if I'd just crossed a road in a manner worthy of a ruddy good shoeing.
posted by vbfg at 1:59 AM on January 10, 2007


...not that ignorance is any kind of defence against the law you understand. If it's ignorance v the violence inherent in the system, the violence inherent in the system will likely win.
posted by vbfg at 2:01 AM on January 10, 2007


Who knows -- maybe the cop's wife had just announced the previous evening that she was leaving him for a Hispanic academic with a UK accent?

That is the most hilarious thing I've read here, and I was hoping it was sarcasm, but no, you really mean it man! wow.

Incidentally, have you seen the video when he's talking about the incident? It's not just a matter of 'UK accent'. He's not only as British as it gets, he's as English as it gets, he's so English his Englishness is like a marmite thick spread of Englishness on toast. An Englishman of Hispanic origins, sure, but so very English.

Not saying that for any reason other than to point out I'm pretty sure that without knowing his name the Hispanic origins part didn't even register in the cops' minds when they treated him to a nice dose of police overreaction American style.

Why is jaywalking such an "American" offence?

It's also very German, but it's treated like riding your bike on the sidewalk, or riding your bike with earphones on, meaning it does happen but it's frowned upon, very embarassing if you get caught, and of course you get fined.

Riding the subway without tickets means bigger fine and bigger embarassment. And they do check, when you least expect it.

The police are usually not at all obnoxious about it though. Most of the time they're actually nice.

(Jaywalking does tend to happen less than those other infractions, the natives are noticeably more disciplined, some to the point of stubbornly waiting for the green light even if it's 3 am and no cars in sight. The little anecdote in here may seem a little caricatured but it's not really.)
posted by pleeker at 2:14 AM on January 10, 2007


I was under the impression that "jaywalking" was crossing on a red not crossing where there isn't an intersection. Am I wrong?
Yes.

If so, what do people do in places where there are no intersection for miles?
They cross with the chickens, who have special road-crossing rights.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:09 AM on January 10, 2007


I say this jaywalking thing is called touting the law. Way back I think it was called jousting, but we all know, ignorance of the law is no excuse ]just bliss[.


It really is an example of excessive force and over what¿ Asking for identification. I bet the police have to identify themselves all the time. Rule 101 I bet. It was way out of line and I don't care who pissed in his cornflakes that morning, staying cool under pressure in that job is tantamount to the job.


I have to say I agree with languagehat
Yeah, people with guns, incredibly thin skins, and a cast-iron sense of authority: people should do exactly what they say, when they say it, with a shit-eating grin and a "Thank you, officer, and have a good day!" or wind up in the slammer. and mert
New York, where the population is treated like cheats and criminals. Patches of grass, not to mention subway entrances, are barred or walled off. In America the state exists to protect wealth and to intimidate and reinforce power relationships.

I'd like to add, that the same applies in any hick town. Basically, you're contributing to the local economy. Paying for lawyers, staying longer than you intended, dining etc., etc., yes, enforced by police.

So, if an area has a lot of persons visiting from out of the regiondavejay.
Call them cash cows then, for 'breaking' the law. The nerve, indeed.



What of the doubling of fines in 'construction' zones in one stop light dumps with NO construction going on at all, just an orange sign stating that is so. Horseshit.

Also, what of quota's¿ I bet all the jaywalking tickets issued have a corelation to quota's. "Hey, there's a convention in town, let's stand by the hotel". Notice how many Atlata's finest are standing around the handcuffed historian...SEVEN. That's 'policing'¿ Zeig Heil./



I believe for some flics, ]^[ intimidation is the MO. Looking at some laws, it seems the government insists on playing Daddy, as if they know better and what's good for you. What's the deal with yelling at adults jaywalking. It's their choice and they'll take the chance, so what's with the holier than thou attitude. Hmm, hotel, out of towner Obviously doesn't know 'the law'. I suppose thinking isn't a prerogative for the job, leave it to the judge¿ Quota anyone¿


The cars that speed through the streets, narrowly missing jaywalking pedestrians...WTH¿ Speeding is ok and pedestrians suddenly are bowling pins¿ In Canada, I believe the pedestrian has the right of way, period. If they're jaywalking, it's caveat pedestrini ]or something like that[, hell, in Vancouver cars stop and let you by, I was shocked, I thought he was lining me up.

It is a shame what happened to the visitor. I hope he petitions to never hold another conference in Atlanta and cc the Mayor. Then sue their asses off, damn right, it's the American way, ]hey, hey[.

Yeah, money talks big time.
posted by alicesshoe at 12:17 PM on January 10, 2007


If I were a jay, I would just fly over the street rather than walking. I guess maybe if I was a really depressed blue jay I might walk.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 5:29 PM on January 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


"This is just a symptom of how crazy this country is. Hey guys, the American system is complete shit. I was in Europe over new years and the contrast was so striking...."

Well, at the risk of ruining my anti-american reputation...they do check for tickets quite often on the train in Germany (I lived there for 5.5 years), and can be reasonably aggressive about it. I have an unpaid ticket from my last day there, because I got into a conversation with an american girl on the train and forgot to validate my fare. In Düsseldorf, at least, people annoyingly NEVER stay to the right on escalators, although in in other parts of Europe they do. And the clean toilets thing only lasts up until the third beer (ie, about 7pm on friday night), after which all bets are off, lol.

It is true however that no other country in the western world seems to have as much trouble keeping their cities clean as the U.S. does. I'd guess however it is more to do with our willingness to spend tax money on it rather than intrinsic cleanliness of citizens.
posted by lastobelus at 9:29 PM on January 10, 2007


My wife tells of being on the subway in Milano and having to pay a fine because the extra day on her weekly ticket wasn't - as she thought - good for that day. (It's apparently even more complicated than it sounds.) She didn't have enough money to pay the whole fine, because she was leaving Italy that day, so they just took all she had. She and others have told me that Italians are offended by the concept of standing in line, and will do so only if forced. I believe that Italy is part of Europe.

Can we make some generalizations about Asia now? That's always fun.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:00 AM on January 11, 2007


I enjoyed the YouTube video immensely, and it's my personal challenge for next week to work the phrase "ageing member of the bourgeoisie" into as many conversations as possible.
posted by matthewr at 7:46 AM on January 11, 2007


Had he been crossing the road further north, in the vicinity of Atlanta's many strip clubs, I dare say he'd have been let off.

Ignorance of the law blah etc no excuse, but you'd think that in an area of Atlanta's oh-so-vibrant downtown that attracts foreign visitors, they might have put up a bloody sign or two. But no. It's also a lot easier to deal with police who have a bad case of little-man syndrome when they're not carrying guns.
posted by holgate at 11:24 AM on January 11, 2007


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