no third solution

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A Right Not Exercised is a Right Lost

October 10th, 2009

Justin Holmes gets “pulled over” for the non-crime of rollerblading, and rightly refuses to identify himself to law enforcement.  When asked why he’s being detained, the officer cites some local ordinance that prohibits rollerblading, which ordinance probably does not exist.

No matter, Justin’s exercise of certain rights guaranteed by the first, fourth, and fifth amendments to the U.S. constitution (and probably most State and Local legislation, too) are construed as “disrespectful”, so you see where this is probably going.  Fortunately, Justin stood his ground and shot this awesome footage to Vimeo.

(It’s a long video, Don’t show ID in New York State! so I’ve summarized some important exchanges below.)

The female officer (second on-scene) pulls out all the stops, with the “You could be a pedophile” line.

Female LEO: The reason why we ask you… thing is, why we ask that, is part of our job is to fight criminals. And we don’t know if you are, just by looking at you… When we encounter people, we gotta make sure they’re not wanted… So we run their name, it’s that simple…This particular situation is just to make sure that you’re not someone wanted, some pedophile that’s wanted, OK, that you’re not a fugitive of justice. [Justin has refused to present identification] We have to take your word for it?

Justin: Take my word for it, that’s right. In a free society, that’s right.

Eventually, I guess, they decide that there are no dangerous rollerblading pedophiles named Justin Holmes in the New York area, but he’s not going to get off that easy.  At one point, the male officer tells Justin to take off his skates and walk home without his shoes on. He asks whether he can skate on the sidewalk, and is told that he cannot. The male officer repeats, that “there is an ordinance.” Remember this lie.

Justin: I do need to know the number of the ordinance.

Male LEO: I’m not going to bother with that because I’m not going to charge you with it.

This is also very interesting, telling, actually, because SOP dictate that “disrespectful” folks like Justin are subject to additional charges like “resisting arrest” or “obstruction”.

The encounter culminates in an attempt to “run him out of town.” At this point, the officer has already informed Justin that rollerblading is illegal in the Village. He’s even said that it’s illegal to do it on the sidewalk (highly suspect). Justin says that he’s prepared to walk, to which the officer says he wants him out of town, the quickest, safest way possible—the clear implication being that Justin should skate his way out of town.

Male LEO: I don’t want you in this village. So I’m gonna be the nice guy and make it so you can get out of this village in the easiest safest and quick way, you tell me what that is…

Justin: I would like to simply skate on the sidewalk but it’s not clear to me if that’s legal.

Male LEO: Then do it and get out of here.

Justin: Is that legal?

Male LEO: I didn’t say it. Do it and get out of here. ‘Cause I really don’t want you in this village.

Justin is understandably confused, and again inquires about the legality of such behavior. The officer refuses to positively respond to Justin’s reasonably inquiries.

At 26:12 the female LEO says that it is indeed legal, very legal.

If rollerblading in the street really is illegal in Port Dick, then these officers collectively wasted about an hour and twenty minutes arguing with  someone who in their opinion was “ignorant” and “disrespectful” during a justifiable detention, and they’re simply going to let him skate his way out of town?

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t pass the smell test: If you’re going to let the guy walk under these circumstances, then why detain him in the first place?  You wouldn’t, unless you were just flexing your badge; being an asshole just because you can be an asshole and nobody will do anything about it.

The only logical conclusion is that Justin didn’t do anything against the law, and the officers knew it.

Some people say, “Well Justin should’ve just shown his ID to the cops, this could’ve all been over in a few seconds if he had just complied.” But it could’ve all been over, in fact the entire encounter need never have occurred, had the officer simply stopped him briefly and said, “Hey kid, it’s not safe and/or illegal to skate in the street, stay on the sidewalk and have a safe trip home.”

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no third solution

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