Imagine this… you’re a rookie cop staking out the mean streets of the Atlanta Convention Center where the raucous American Historical Association is holding their “Annual Meeting”. As you stand there eating your doughnut you witness a man in a three piece suit carrying conference materials cross the middle of the street right between the racy Hilton and questionable Hyatt!
What do you do? Call 5 fellow officers over, toss his ass on the ground, stick a knee in his neck and haul his jaywalking ass to jail of course! (Should have given him a good beat down too!) Who cares if he’s a jolly old foreigner with a British accent in a three piece suit? The public must be protected!
George Mason University’s History News Network reported:
On Thursday, just after noon, the Tufts historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto was arrested by Atlanta police as he crossed the middle of the street between the Hilton and Hyatt hotels.
After being thrown on the ground and handcuffed, the former Oxford don was formally arrested, his hands cuffed behind his back. Several policemen pressed hard on his neck and chest, leaving the mild-mannered scholar, who’s never gotten so much as a parking ticket, bruised and in pain.
He was then taken to the city detention center along with other accused felons and thrown into a filthy jail cell filled with prisoners. He remained incarcerated for eight hours. Officials demanded bail of over a thousand dollars. To come up up with the money Fernandez-Armesto, the author of nineteen books, had to make an arrangement with a bail bondsman.
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).
The prosecutors asked the professor to plead nolo contendere. He refused, concerned that the stain on his record might put his green card status in jeopardy.
Officials finally agreed to drop all charges. The judge expressed his approval.
Even if I try to be fair to the officer in this case I can come up with no justification for this treatment.
- If his identity as a police officer was indeed questioned it would have been reasonable for him to produce a badge.
- In the very worst case scenario he should have issued a ticket.
I’d be willing to bet that this was a case of bigotry on the part of the cop. He figured that he’d teach this foreigner a lesson about questioning his authority!
Professor Fernandez-Armesto provided HNN the following account of his treatment. (Three part video totals 24 minutes.)