Friday, February 18, 2011

The Jack-Booted Thug(s) of the Week...

... are the uniformed Secret Service officers who detained and harassed a person who happened to be taking pictures in front of the White House, just like hundreds of thousands of tourists do every year.

The supposed actions that made him so "suspicious"?  Including in his shots a few of the uniformed officers standing by marked cruisers who were hanging out in the public plaza in front of the White House fence while gossiping away with one another:

We suppose they were a little embarrassed at being caught lounging around and had to somehow justify their presence with a little show of "authoritah".

Q:  "How long have you been here, sir?"

A.  "I don't know, 5 minutes?... is there like a time length that you give to people?... I know that woman all the way down there has been there for like, 40 years, so, no one's kicking her out of here."

Now that's an appropriate answer to some truly inane questions.

The photographer did pretty well for himself despite unfortunately answering quite a few of the bullies' questions after he clearly stated he wouldn't (cops are kind of good at ignoring any assertion of one's rights).  As the harassee himself says in the video's comments,

" i also thought maybe if i was answering a few questions here and there and they saw my record was good that they'd go ahead and kick me loose, not hold me for an additional 10 minutes!"

He obviously thought wrong.

Once again we see that voluntarily giving up one's rights when one hasn't done anything wrong in the first place doesn't make a whit of difference to the sort of police officers who like to make up their own laws and rules as they go along.

If you ever find yourself being rousted in a similar manner for innocently taking pictures of public people and places, remember the following sentences (standard disclaimer:  we are not lawyers, nor do we wish to be ones, but we have consulted with quite a few of them and here's what they told us to say):

Am I being detained or am I free to go about my business?

Please articulate your reasonable suspicion that I am committing a crime.

I do not consent to a search of either myself or my belongings.

I will not answer any questions and I wish to speak to my attorney.

Just so you know, please realize that you're probably going to be taking a ride downtown if the cops do in fact have a valid reason to arrest you.  If they don't and are simply hell-bent on unlawfully making life rough for you for insisting on using your Constitutional freedoms then there's no sense in arguing with them (and anything you say out of anger or frustration at the situation might actually count against you in any future civil lawsuit you may bring against them), so it's best to just keep your mouth shut except for the above statements.

(As always, a big h/t to Carlos Miller for staying right on top of stories such as these)

No comments: