Alex Teach on the beatalex teach on the beat
Life on the mean streets with Officer Alex
“Why didn’t you read him his rights?!” yelled a young female student. The small crowd rallied, and at that I smiled as I heard the playback, raptly watching something on “The YouTubes” I’d been referred to by my old friend Facebook.
A young man on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga decided to question the validity of an argument being posed by a female evangelist I decline to name to avoid adding to her own considerable ego. Regardless of her statement or his question, he decided to make the third time a charm, since on-site security had already warned him twice not to cross a Day-Glo orange circle of traffic cones designed to provide a barrier between her mouth and annoyed spectators. And given the events that unfolded on video, it’s safe to say they were needed.
The topic of this woman’s speech was irrelevant to me. Cops can get political or even theological on their own time, but when folks are yelling on the job, the only opinion we need to have is about the condition of any permits that may apply to where they speak from. In this case the female evangelist had already filled out the necessary paperwork to annoy the shit out of people properly, and thusly allowed the soon-to-be-miserable campus police (for “police” is exactly what they are, we tend to forget) to make preparations accordingly.
So there she was, insulting every human in hearing distance apparently for the crime of being alive, when a local collegiate hero decided to reply to her barrage of damnation. He was astride a bicycle and would edge forward to pose his question as uniformed security asked him to respect the aforementioned Day-Glo cones placed there to separate her from the rest of an understandably irritated humanity. He relented, according to the report.
The barrage continuing, he attempted to intervene again, and so twice was he was rebuffed. But the third time, he was determined to cross that line and as he did so, an open hand was placed upon him along with the unambiguous order to “stop”. It wasn’t until now that it would get interesting.
Such was the young man’s passion to express his own views (and I agree, they were quite innocuous) his ardor prevented him from following a one-word order and instead, he chose then and there to question that word, too. Instead of “yes, sir,” he instructed the hands to be removed. He’d turn the tables on them! Instead of retreating at the obvious sign of action, he stood his ground. And, so, instead of complying with a lawful order, he decided to prove his point by being taken to the ground and showing what passive resistance was all about.
Before it was over there were three cops with three sets of hands on him getting him in handcuffs as he continued to choose that exact moment to not do a single thing he was being told to do, and even the evangelist started recording the goings on. Rather than comply, the young man decided instead to hold a Q&A session with the cops, because why would you do as you're told when being held to the ground since not complying in the first place got you this far? I get it.
So now other people that also don’t feel they should have to yield to authority figures if they don’t want to began to chime in with their own legal advice. You know, to help the young man that was also situationally stupid.
“Why don’t you read him his rights?!” was the cry that got me the most, because it underscored the youthful ignorance of the situation. My answer? Because they weren’t asking him any questions, that’s why, but the only obvious response is to laugh. Television doesn’t even push this bit anymore; he was being arrested for failing to comply with one simple word after three warnings, that’s why they weren’t reading him his rights, or Dr. Seuss either for that matter, since both would have been equally applicable.
This isn’t going to help, but…when you break a marked barrier and refuse to do what a cop says, you will very likely be arrested. It’s simple. When you continue to not do what he or she says, they will have more cops help them. And no matter how right you think you are, once you’re charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice and inciting a riot, your point’s going to be lost, bro.
“Not wanting to be arrested” or “Choosing which rules apply to you” aren’t affirmative defenses here, folks. But that’s the beauty of something like this happening on a college campus: Talk about real-world lessons being taught. Class was in session that day, baby.
You can have opinions. You can be passionate. But while you can also be stupid, you need to be aware there can be consequences, and usually very obvious ones at that.