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A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-16-2007, 01:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I know that in this day and age of so-called leaders like George “Hang Em Hi” Bush and Donald “Roughshod” Rumsfield many if not all of the civil liberties that we have enjoyed for so long as Americans have been unceremoniously tossed into the dumpster but I was involved in an incident last night that now has left me shaking my head and seriously wondering if all of us shouldn’t just pack our bags and head for the hills.

I attended a photography seminar in the downtown area of the city I live in and after it ended I decided I wanted to try a local restaurant I have heard a lot about so I went to my car and locked up my cameras and laptop in the trunk and started to walk back to the restaurant. I walked the three or four blocks to the restaurant and as I was waiting outside for a table I was approached by a Police Officer who demanded to see my identification. When I asked him what was wrong and why was he requesting my identification he refused to answer and once again demanded to see my identification. I again asked him if I had done anything wrong or if I had committed or was suspected of committing a crime and he answered “no” and again demanding to see my identification. I responded in a very calm, low, and non-threatening voice that since according to him I had done nothing wrong and had not committed a crime I would be unable to honor his request.

At this point the conversation changed dramatically from a calm one to a heated one. The Officer started yelling and became abusive and doing just about everything short of blatantly threatening me because he wasn’t getting his way and found he was unable to bully or intimidate me into getting his way. At this point a crowd had gathered around us and the Officer came to the realization that he was fighting a losing battle especially with witnesses around and he gruffly said to me: “you can go now” and as walked away into the restaurant he remarked to me: “I had better not see you around here again” which was overheard by several people who offered to assist me if I needed it.

Now, I am not by any stretch of the imagination an anarchist nor do I dislike the Police. I was raised to believe in law and order and the rule of law but I was also raised to believe that if a person hasn’t done anything wrong and isn’t disturbing anyone they have a right to live their lives as they please. I was also raised to believe that people have a right to live free of unreasonable suspicion but from all I am seeing in the media and especially in light of what I just experienced it appears that our society has taken a wrong turn somewhere and this greatly troubles me.

I spoke with the Chief of Police this morning about this and also to the Department IAB and from all indications I am getting it strongly appears that the Police will try and whitewash this and sweep it under the rug, which I am not sure I am happy with at all. I am in the process of weighing my options but what I really would like to know if just exactly what rights, if any, do we have left anymore? Can the Police just stop anyone, anytime, anywhere and harass and interrogate them for no reason at all and do we still have rights? What recourse do ordinary citizens have against outrageous behavior by the Police? I know there have been many posts to the G1 Forums about the rights of photographers when dealing with authorities and the establishment but just what exactly are our rights and how do we assert them without getting harassed, intimidated, arrested, jailed, or shot by Police why are getting more and more out of control? If anyone has an answer to this I would really like to hear it. Thanks to all.
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Re: A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-16-2007, 09:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada (2004), the Supreme Court, by a 5 to 4 majority, upheld laws in various sates that allow local police to demand that individuals identify themselves at any time and jail anyone who refuses to cooperate. They do not have to be suspects in a crime, nor do the police need to have any evidence that a crime has been committed or might be soon. Not all states have these laws, but that doesn't stop police in those states from trying anyway.
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Re: A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-16-2007, 09:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Your best defense is a fully informed and free press. Maybe you could have your local paper look into the matter. I know I would.

Also, most states have an open records law. I would probably submit a request for all the complaints filed against that particular officer. That will definitly get their attention.

Best of luck to you.

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Re: A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-16-2007, 10:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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There was a recent story on the tv news about a cop from South Carolina that rammed into a car on an interstate in Virginia with his own personal car.
After the other car had pulled over, he then walked to the other car, his gun was pulled and tapped on the other peoples car with the gun barrel. The female passenger claimed that he told her that he could shoot her if he wanted to. The results from this was that the cop was arrested by the police in Virginia, probably with various charges. Pointing his gun at people while off duty in another state, harassment, road rage and who knows what else. We all know about the 5th ammendment. You didn't have to tell that cop anything based on that. Even if he had taken you to the police station they would have to allow you a lawyer. I had a similar experience here when the cops wanted to know why I was out so late, where was I at and what was I doing. I was returning from dinner and discussing photography with someone else until 1:00 am, but that wasn't any of their business.
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Re: A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-16-2007, 10:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm afraid that much our rights as we know it have gone out the door these last few years. It is a much greater threat than any terrorist has been. I don't know what to do.
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Re: A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-16-2007, 11:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoDave1 View Post
...after it ended I decided I wanted to try a local restaurant I have heard a lot about so I went to my car and locked up my cameras and laptop in the trunk and started to walk back to the restaurant.
Let's see: at night, in a city, locks expensive cameras and laptop in automobile trunk and leaves car unattended to go eat. Yeah, probably cause...reckless endangerment of good photo equipment, tempting local city thieves. "Son you have the right to answer my questions, you have the right to a ride in a city ambulance to the hospital if your head assaults my nightstick, you have the right to spend the night in the county jail picking up the soap for bubba...for being a dumbass."

The Supreme Court of these United States has ruled that our constitution does not provide citizens the right to refuse to identify themselves when requested by law enforcement officers. Rights against self-incrimination, unlawful search and seizure exists but Miranda doesn't give a person the right to withhold identification.

A distasteful thing happened to you...Heck the distasteful thing is that a police officer had to put up with a smart ass like you.
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Re: A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-17-2007, 01:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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“Even under the best forms of government, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

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Re: A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-20-2007, 02:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mal at Hidden Creek Photo View Post
Let's see: at night, in a city, locks expensive cameras and laptop in automobile trunk and leaves car unattended to go eat. Yeah, probably cause...reckless endangerment of good photo equipment, tempting local city thieves. "Son you have the right to answer my questions, you have the right to a ride in a city ambulance to the hospital if your head assaults my nightstick, you have the right to spend the night in the county jail picking up the soap for bubba...for being a dumbass."

The Supreme Court of these United States has ruled that our constitution does not provide citizens the right to refuse to identify themselves when requested by law enforcement officers. Rights against self-incrimination, unlawful search and seizure exists but Miranda doesn't give a person the right to withhold identification.

A distasteful thing happened to you...Heck the distasteful thing is that a police officer had to put up with a smart ass like you.
At least you admit he was smart - he knows his rights, and he is entitled to them. The policeman was outside of the law, and clearly he knew it - his reactions show that.

The constitution may not provide the protection, but state law has to provide the police with the power. Without it, the police do not have the right to demand identification on the spot - the US is not (yet) a police state. They do have the right to arrest someone, and once arrested, the person is obligated to identify him or herself, but not before then. Of course, without probable cause, the arrest would probably be ruled wrongful.

Why do you feel the need to abuse someone exercising their rights?
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Re: A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-20-2007, 06:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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This was an action long before President Bush came to the WH. I was a cop in Daytona and I could (legally) detain anyone I wish and demand they identify themselves.

It was called (at least for my department) "filling out a contact card". Some departments have to get a certain number a month - although there is "no such thing" as a quota.
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Re: A Distasteful Thing Happened To Me On My Way To Dinner
Old 02-20-2007, 07:40 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I agree with Mal - If you would have just shown the officer your id, you would have been on your way with no problems. People have a way of blowing things up when they don't need to just because they think they know their rights. We all want to live in a safe society, why bash a police officer for attempting to do his job. Sounds like he was checking on something he saw out of the ordinary and you bullied him! If he wanted to harass you - you would have been locked up - crowd or not.
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