Experience Stop And Frisk Thanks To This POV Video

from the a-mile-in-their-shoes dept

It’s not terribly often that two regular themes we discuss at Techdirt come together in an almost perfect way. Yet that’s exactly what’s happened recently with a story that combines the value of allowing citizens to record public servants, particularly law enforcement officers, and the complete travesty known as stop and frisk. While that program is perhaps most infamous in New York, the basis for it is a court case, Terry v. Ohio, and that has been the groundwork for similar law enforcement policies throughout the country. Included in that is the city of Philadelphia, where we are able to see and hear firsthand a stop by two officers that all began when someone said hello to a stranger. Here’s the entire video.

In case you can’t view or would just like highlights, two men were stopped by police, according to the officers, because they said hello to a stranger and people just don’t do that. So now we’re outlawing being polite? Outstanding. It gets worse from there.

“I didn’t accuse you of anything, can you hear? I said we could have got a call that somebody wearing the clothes that you’re wearing just robbed someone, that’s why we stopped you, so is that wrong of us?”

Well, gee, officer, in that completely hypothetical that you aren’t confirming actually happened, that would not be wrong. But that isn’t what was said initially. Instead, the stop occurred because of so-called suspicious activity that consisted of someone saying hello to another person. A stop due to a BOLO (be on the lookout) probably wouldn’t have started with questioning suspects about saying hello.

“You’re under investigation right now”

“Investigation of what? I was walking.”

“That’s not what I saw”

“I was walking.”

“You’re gonna be in violation if you keep running your mouth when I split your wig open.”

I’m pretty sure we have a right to remain silent, not a requirement to under penalty of a split wig, whatever the hell that is. Further, as the video continues with threats for taking the men in for “running” their mouth illustrates wonderfully how far outside the bounds of serving and protecting these two esteemed officers went.

If you can stomach the video all the way through, you end up hearing the officers admit these two gentlemen did nothing wrong and would be let go, offered up via an extremely patronizing admission that they’re “good guys.” Without the right to record, not only would the abhorrent actions of the officers be subject to review, but those more privileged in life like myself might not understand that complete humiliation and unfairness involved in randomly stopping people without any reasonable suspicion wrong-doing. Stop and frisk and its cousin programs need to go the way of the dodo now.

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Comments on “Experience Stop And Frisk Thanks To This POV Video”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Bloomberg's shame

If only they could use this as evidence and hit the rich guy where it hurts, millions in a class action lawsuit. I’m sure the NYPD will role over on the mayor, especially when his term ends.

He’s rich, take away his money and harass the shit out of him, just as he encourages the officers too. Too bad the police can’t do the same to him, not that he’d walk anywhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

Amazing. Really. And they wonder why people not only don’t respect the police but don’t want to have anything to do with them. As for the officer’s comment about how “Everyone thinks that they are a lawyer,” perhaps we someone from the ACLU (or even better yet, someone like Ken White, please if you see this and care to) would mind addressing that comment.

Nick (profile) says:

Oh my good lord:

Kid: “I was recordin'”
Cop: “Exactly.”
Kid: “Is it illegal to record?”
Cop: “No, and it’s not illegal for me to come and grab you either.
Kid: “Well… yes it is!”
Cop: “Is it?”
Kid: “Yeah, it’s like harrasment or somethin’. I didn’t do nothing!”
Cop: “How do you know?”
(Me right about now: “WHAT?”)
(Later on…)

Cop: “How do WE know you didn’t commit a crime?”
(Me: “Uh, it’s called innocent until proven guilty? Look it up one time. I THINK it’s important.”)

And then he starts asking the dumbest freakin questions ever, and starts smirking at how dumbfounded the kid is that he can’t respond. He throws out a hypothetical question about how he MIGHT have stopped them because of a call of a robbery. However, since that wasn’t why they stopped them, the point is irrelevant.

Still listening to the video. Man, these guys just called people in this neighborhood pigs. If they aren’t canned, someone ought to be.

Nick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:


Here, the cop was trying to confuse the issue. When the kid said he didn’t do anything, the cop spoke (so quickly he misspoke multiple times) about “how do WE know you aren’t guilty?”

When the kid says the whole point of the altercation was because they talked to some random dude and this was all total harassment, the cop deflected with his hypothetical by asking that “WELL MAYBE WE GOT A CALL ABOUT A ROBBERY NEARBY AND THE DESCRIPTION GIVEN WAS FOR WHAT YOU ARE WEARING? DID YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT THAT?” Uh, gee no officer, I thought you talked to me because I talked to that one guy, simply because the first thing you asked when you stopped me was “Why were you talking to that guy?”

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

A split wig would be a threat of violence.

I suggest that these two be sent to North Dakota for six months.

I choose North Dakota because I’ve been there. Granted it’s been 40 years since I’ve been there, maybe they’ve all turned into asshats or something while I’ve been away. But I doubt it. Really, any low-population area should do.

My experience is that the people there consider being said “hello” to by a stranger is a good excuse to stop and have a conversation. You know, a friendly one where you may actually get to meet somebody interesting.

The officers will either come back with a new appreciation for saying “hello” to strangers, or they’ll go totally bugnuts. Either way, problem solved.

Assuming, of course, that they don’t just decide to stay there.

Anonymous Coward says:


“Without the right to record, not only would the abhorrent actions of the officers be subject to review…”

I think you meant to say “Without the right to record, not only would the actions of the officers not be subject to review”

The way you’ve said it is that if we don’t have the right to record, then the officers would be subject to review.

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

I had to reserve commenting at first.

When I read this and watched the video no one had commented yet.
I just could not at that time because I had feelings of serious hate towards them. I am not a minority nor am I some bleeding heart but watching this video made me so mad that ANYONE in the country would be treated in that manner no matter the circumstances that I really wanted to blast them.

I am not aware of their day to day job or the stresses involved but there simply is not excuse for the way another human being is being treated.

Simple answer these officers should be fired. If not then the police chief should be fired then the officers. Anything less is just not acceptable. Time to send a message to police they are not the power they are allowed by us to exercise certain powers we grant them to serve and protect us. That is it.

Rekrul says:

Stuff like this is all too common. There is no real accountability for the police and no consequences for violating people’s rights. Cops have been elevated to a special class, above the law and are pretty much untouchable except for the very worst crimes, IF they can be proven beyond any shadow of a doubt.

You don’t have to look any further than the ridiculous cases of “felony assault” against cops, where the suspect just touched a cop, or even pulled away from them. Any normal citizen who tried to file charges of felony assault against another person for poking them in the chest with their index finger would be laughed out of court. However, if a normal person does the same to a cop, it’s treated as if that person smacked the cop with a lead pipe.

I really want to know; Are there actually laws on the books which state that any contact with a cop, no matter how minor or incidental is automatically a felony assault? If so, how do the states justify giving the police such special privileges? If not, how can they possibly argue that something as minor as pulling your hand away from a cop constitutes “assault” under the normal definitions which apply to everyone else?

They’re free to abuse their power in most any way they want and any attempt by the public to resist this abuse is automatically considered a crime.

As long as cops have this impenetrable legal shield, they will continue to abuse their power and bully defenseless innocents.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

we have no real, equitable, functioning justice system…

how can we ? ? ?

the constitution all but ignored, bill of rights undermined and stripped down to nothingness: we have NO ‘legal protections’ any longer…

draconian, byzantine, kafkaesque law for the 99%,
no law for the 1%…

get used to that new world odor, citizen…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

Anonymous Coward says:

You know I worked the kill line at a slaughterhouse for a short time back in the day. There is a limit on that because they believe it puts you at risk of becoming insane and going on a wild killing spree. I know a few older ones that worked it for years and some of them were very distant to say the least.

Fast forward a bit.

After I was arrested a few years ago “drugs” I was talking with one of the officers. He was very nice and polite so I asked him one question. Some of these guys are pure assholes are they always like that?

He told me no, but many of them lose all sense of morals and self respect after criminals treating them like shit day after day for years. He said unfortunately after years many of them start believing they’re trash and the way they treat others just gets worse and worse.
I won’t blame any cop for being a dick because in many cases it’s not their fault. However there should be serious yearly reviews going on to determine if they’re still fit for duty.

Compare the two and come to your own conclusion.

What would happen if many people treated me like shit day after day for years on end? Honestly I don’t know how it would change me, but I do know one thing it would not be good.

pms says:

They don't have immunity

Become a person of action. Police do not have immunity. You can file a suit against anyone who injures you, your property, or your rights. These police are definitely guilty of criminal activity through color of law and abuse of authority. The arrogance and criminal actions of police will continue to get worse if people don’t start standing up for their rights. If we don’t exercise our rights, then we have no rights. For anyone interested in gaining POWER against such activity, I suggest that you educate yourself. EDUCATION IS POWER!! Visit losthorizons.com and freedom-school.com. A must read, “Sui Juris – The Truth In The Record” by Pamela and Will Gaston. It should be accessible online. Also, for anyone interested in learning the entire process of fighting back, google Paul Mitchell (owner of supremelaw.com). Another is Rodney Class. He has taken his fight all the way to Supreme Court…..and WON! U.S. Courts are private corporations, as are all government agencies, every state, every city, even America is a corporation. Why should this matter? You ask. Because our laws, the police power, and every time you hear “The State of ….vs John Doe, are all based on Statutes; and Statutes aren’t Laws, they’re policies (CORPORATE POLICIES). By learning how to be a Sui Juris, you remove yourself from statutes and put yourself back into ‘Common Law’ rights. There is so much BS that people accept as ‘the way it is’ because of decades of brainwashing, alternative definitions of commonly used words, and intimidation, among other agendas that entrap any citizen at any given time to be unjustly victimized by the very authorities and agencies that are supposed to protect our rights. even if you do none of the research and learning that I have suggested, there is one thing that everyone should do at all times. Any time you sign your name to something, (every single time) also add near or under your signature “All Rights Reserved” or “Without Prejudice”. It means ‘you reserve your right not to be compelled to perform under any contract, commercial agreement, or bankruptcy that you did not knowingly, voluntarily, and intentionally enter into’. Every traffic ticket is a contract, your driver license is a contract. I recently got stopped for speeding. I signed the ticket and put those simple words underneath. The State Trooper did a double-take then handed me the whole ticket back. He did not sign it, did not keep a copy for the clerk to enter into a computer, and upon inquiring on the fine I had to pay, there was nothing for the clerk to find when she entered my info. We all need to reeducate ourselves, because we are losing all of our rights. If you speed, it is not illegal and “the State” can not claim your actions were wrong. In Common Law, if you haven’t injured another person, or their property, or infringed on the rights of another, then you have not committed a crime or any wrong action. I hope that this lengthy comment is seen and acted upon by many and then passed along to each and every person willing to listen, because the only way to stop future violations of injustice that is destroying the lives of so many good people, is to empower our children and grandchildren with the truth and ability to exercise their GOD given rights. Good Luck and PLAY IT FORWARD.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: They don't have immunity

Without intending insult to the OPer and not being able to look into this with any focus now …. Does anyone know anything about the “common law” concept mentioned and if the statement that we’re not bound by “statutes” (because they’re not “laws”) is at all sane?

This smacks to me of people who claim that ignoring Fed taxes is not “illegal” and who then promptly wind up in jail for not paying taxes, so I have to ask.

If the OP is actually a sane concept, what am I missing?

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