Rutgers Lecturer Forcibly Sent For Psych Evaluation By NYPD For Some Tweets About The Election

from the reprogramming-in-effect dept

As you may have noticed, a lot of people have opinions on the election that just happened. And, many people are using social media to express those opinions, for good or for bad. Some people are excited, some people are angry. And no matter which side you fall on, you should recognize that expressing opinions on social media is protected (and should be encouraged as part of a healthy political process involving public discussion and debate). Kevin Allred, a lecturer at Rutgers University, is definitely on the side of folks who aren't happy with the results of the election. And, like many, he's been tweeting about his opinions on the matter. Having read through his Twitter feed, it doesn't seem all that out of the ordinary from stuff that I've seen from others. In fact, I'd argue that it actually seems fairly tame.

Either way, last night he Tweeted that the NYPD had come to his house because the police at Rutgers believed he was "a threat" based on some of his tweets. There were two tweets in particular. One was about burning a flag in protest and the other was a rhetorical question about the 2nd Amendment.


To be clear: flag burning is perfectly legal and protected expression, as per the US Supreme Court. But here, Allred wasn't even burning a flag. He was talking about burning a flag, which is, obviously, also protected expression. Ditto on the random rhetorical on the 2nd Amendment. No matter what you think of Allred's position on the election, flag burning OR the 2nd Amendment, you should recognize that the 1st Amendment protects that expression. Update: It also appears that Allred deleted the original tweet on the second point which was certainly noticeably different than the way he describes it above. It wasn't just a question in the nature stated, but rather a more direct question of what would happen when he went out and started to shoot white people. That's still protected speech, but at least there's slightly more of an explanation for why law enforcement wanted to go visit him. But it's still not necessarily a reason to detain him.

The Rutgers police and NYPD apparently disagreed. They forced him to go to a psychiatric hospital to be evaluated.


Allred blames Trump for this -- and while we've made it clear that we've got lots of concerns about Trump's views on free speech, Trump isn't exactly directing police to pick up people for various tweets. But the whole situation is extremely disturbing nonetheless. It's frightening how little law enforcement seems to recognize or care about the First Amendment.

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  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 9:11am

    How exactly does that "forced me" thing work? Extrajudicial, as in no court order? Rutgers campus security forces are known locally as self-important paramilitary wannabees, but thanks to some unfortunate legislation, Kampus Kops at all NJ state-affiliated colleges are vested with powers that parallel the NJ State Police. Often, that amounts to alcohol raids that result in 20-year-olds facing felony charges instead of warnings; but this is a surreal next level. (Dare we use the Gestapo word?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Nathan F (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:32am

      Re:

      Having worked 10 years at a psych hospital what most likely happened was an Order of Protective Custody was written up. If someone feels that a person is a danger to themselves or others you can go to the police and swear out an OPC and the police will go pick up said person and bring them to a hospital for a psych eval. At that point the doctors have to do an eval, and if they feel that yes this person needs to be in the hospital then the doctors write out a Physicians Emergency Custody order. This is where it stopped for this guy, and they apparently let him go. If the psych doctors think that further custody or treatment is needed the PEC is written up along with their evaluation and then another qualified expert (in Louisiana it was the Parish (County) Corner.. no I have no idea why the Corner of all people had that final sign off..) reviews the OPC, PEC, and Eval and then gives a yeah or nay on you staying with the white coaters for a while.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 9:40am

    Police State behaving as well as their controls allow

    Either the Rutgers police need a court ordered smackdown, or they need their own psychological evaluation. Of course the First Amendment has been under attack for a while now, even via the police, and hopes that a new administration will ameliorate such attacks seems like 'pie in the sky' hopefulness. Not very likely.

    Ming the Merciless had a better attitude toward his minions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 10:14am

    And the medical bills go to...

    If history is any indication, I expect our friend Kevin will be getting a bill in the mail for an ambulance ride and for the evaluation.

    We can't be charging that to the public... that would be a waste of taxes...

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:17am

      Re: And the medical bills go to...

      And this will result in yet another lawsuit for NYC. How many are they up to per year? At this point, much of the city budget probably goes to paying off all the lawsuits they lose.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Whoever, 16 Nov 2016 @ 10:52am

    Blame the doctors as well.

    The doctors should have refused to take this person.

    He wasn't mentally ill, there was no indication that he was a threat to himself or anyone else. He should not have been admitted.

    I wonder if there will be an expensive lawsuit over this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 10:55am

    Kevin needs to get himself a good lawyer, it's a shame that taxpayers will get the bill because it should come out of the personal pocket of that "police" officer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 10:56am

    "Not a cop" == "Not human"

    That pretty much sums the world of cops, as far as I can tell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:07am

    How about Kevin just wear it as a Badge of Courage for the cause.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:08am

    Where's the threat?

    What idiot thought this man was a threat? Neither of those tweets even contemplate violence against any person, group, or institution, much less give any indication of ability or intent to carry out such violence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:11am

    Two things

    OK, two things. First, this article says "Either way, last night he Tweeted that the NYPD had come to his house because the police at Rutgers believed he was 'a threat' based on some of his tweets." But his tweet says "NYPD just came to my house bc Rutgers Police told them i'm a threat based on political statements i've made on campus and on twitter." We perhaps know what he said on Twitter, but we don't know what he said on campus.

    Second, is there any source for this besides the person in question? All the links in the article just go to his tweets (except the one to Wikipedia indicating that flag burning is legal.) It seems to me that he's not exactly a neutral source. How do we know this happened? How do we know there's not something else going on?

    If it IS true, then it's unacceptable, and someone needs to be held accountable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Vidiot (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:01pm

      Re: Two things

      This would be the same NYPD anti-terrorism squad that tends to show up uninvited at hot spots around the world. And is subsequently told to pound salt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2016 @ 5:54am

      Re: Two things

      "but we don't know what he said on campus
      It seems to me that he's not exactly a neutral source.
      How do we know this happened?
      How do we know there's not something else going on?"



      Looks as though you are searching for excuses, any particular reason for this?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    michael, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:11am

    I don't get it

    If he wasn't under arrest, why did he go with him? Exactly what "force" was used?

    If I'm not under arrest, I'm not going anywhere I don't want to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Cop with gun and attitude, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:20am

      Re: I don't get it

      Sir... we advise you to come with us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      kallethen, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:21am

      Re: I don't get it

      The "force" used was likely the threat of being arrested if he did not comply.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:29am

      Re: I don't get it

      Dont even come out of the house unless they have a warrant. There is just no trusting these incredibly STUPID POS cops.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:09pm

        Re: Re: I don't get it

        Boy I bet you are the most baddass person anywhere. Standing up to authority like that.

        but try to put yourself in this person's shoes. Police have power and a very strong ability to intimidate tons of folks. Depending how the approached him and what they said they could easily have manipulated/intimidated him into doing what they wanted. Lots of folks don't have the training and even those who do may completely forget it the second they are in an intense situation like this.
        Not everyone is some badass anti-authoritarian like you who knows every legal requirement for arrest. He may have genuinely thought he had no choice but to comply.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:29am

      Re: I don't get it

      Dont even come out of the house unless they have a warrant. There is just no trusting these incredibly STUPID POS cops.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DannyB (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:41pm

        Re: Re: I don't get it

        No need to come out of the house.

        They'll bust down the door and come in, warrant or no.

        Your honor! There were exigent circumstances!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2016 @ 5:56am

          Re: Re: Re: I don't get it

          We feared for our lives .. we ALL feared for our lives.
          No one fears for our lives more than we do.
          Our fear is huge, you will be so fearful that you will get sick of being so fearful.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Agammamon, 16 Nov 2016 @ 8:04pm

      Re: I don't get it

      You generally have a choice - voluntarily commit or *get involuntarily committed*.

      With the first you can check yourself out at any time and there's no permanent legal stigma.

      With the second you're there until the doctors decide to let you go and you can (in some places) lose your rights to firearms (though since this guy is so anti-gun I don't think that would matter much to him).

      If you don't come along quietly they'll just get an order to have you committed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2016 @ 5:57am

        Re: Re: I don't get it

        Is this due to any Mental Health Industry "recommendations"?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Groaker (profile), 17 Nov 2016 @ 7:34am

          Re: Re: Re: I don't get it

          Unlikely to be the direct result of Mental Health Industry recommendations, but rather abuse of existing law just as the Soviets used to back in the "good old days."

          The NYPD has even taken to using this technique on its own members when they insist that the orders of Federal Judges be followed.

          It is certainly an arrest within the meaning of the word. Force, or the threat of force was used to move a man from one location to another. The police better hope it was an arrest, otherwise it would be unlawful imprisonment if the man was kept for less than 24 hours, kidnapping if longer.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:20am

    It's absolutely adorable the way people think we have freedom anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MDT (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:27am

    Original tweet was : https://web.archive.org/web/20161116144036/https:/twitter.com/KevinAllred/status/796598422119673856

    T hat's a bit different than how he later paraphrased it. It's still protected speech, but it's a lot more dicey than he's playing now. Either way though, without something more to go on, the cops had no probable cause just based on tweets. They would have had to have some witnesses saying he said something else in person from the campus. Would not surprise me if they did though. I'm amazed at how 'eye witnesses' hear and see what they want, not what was actually said or done.

    The most likely chain of events is he said something inflamatory, someone else heard what they thought was a threat, repeated it in more dramatic (and dangerous) words to the cops, the cops then decided that they didn't like his tone in tweets and went with it, despite the eye witness likely having mis-remembered what was said (I have two uncles who were cops, they said the only thing more unreliable than an eye witness was a con man).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      timmaguire42 (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:40am

      Re:

      Agreed, that is a much closer call than anyone would guess from reading this thread. If he said "if" instead of "when," he'd have a stronger complaint. But he didn't. He said "when."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:05pm

      Re:

      That tweet, which appears to have been deleted, said "will the 2nd amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and start shooting atrandom while people or no...?"

      He also apparently tweeted "if I see any Trump bumper stickers on the road today, my brakes will go out and I'll run you off the road."

      So how many tweets like that can someone make before someone reasonably becomes concerned?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:00pm

        Re: Re:

        I'd angle for 'until he names specific people or dates', or, 'until action is taken on is part'.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Teamchaos (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:37pm

        Re: Re:

        So Mike, Why didn't you include the original tweets? This guy is threatening folks. Of course, he was only threatening Trump voters and random white people. Not really that big a deal, right?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:48pm

        Re: Re:

        I find it curious that I see tweets far more threatening that this -- that is, very clear, overt death threats directed at individuals -- every day. The people making them are doing so publicly. They're using their real names. They're immediately identifiable via trivial searches (and matching up the photos found with their Twitter account). And yet nothing is done -- not by Twitter, not by police.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2016 @ 6:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well, clearly they need to be locked up for their pych eval.
          The for profit mental health industry says so.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Kal Zekdor (profile), 17 Nov 2016 @ 4:12am

        Re: Re:

        Ehhh... The one about the second ammendment is just wild hypothetical boasting, with the intent of making a political statement. The other one is actually the more concerning of the two, but it's still clearly someone venting anger through violent fantasies. Neither statement is a direct threat, and they shouldn't be treated as such. Both of those statements are, of course, quite offensive and divisive, but since when was that grounds to put someone through a "voluntary" psych eval?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 11:49am

    It begins

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Cressman, 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:17pm

    Missing something?

    It looks like Techdirt is getting lazy. As people pointed out, there were deleted tweets that are borderline terroristic threats (or can be read as such) and while any one of them might be 1st amendment protected, the whole of them can definitely be taken together to indicate an unstable individual.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:17pm

    His actual tweets, as preserved by Patrick

    will the 2nd amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and start shooting at random white people or no?

    And:

    if I see any Trump bumper stickers on the road today, my brakes will go out and i'll run you off the road

    So yeah, this guy's not being truthful.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Vidiot (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:05pm

      Re:

      I didn't see much more than "He's a lecturer"... lecturer in what? Inflammatory 101?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Lisboeta, 17 Nov 2016 @ 3:39am

        Inflammatory 101

        Kevin Allred is one of those SJW bandwagon nutjobs. He's a self-described queer feminist who, despite being white himself, believes ‘There are no good white people … only less bad white people’. He works in Rutger's Women's and Gender Studies Department, teaching a course which uses Beyoncé's career as a way to explore American race, gender and sexual politics. So he probably does merit a psych. evaluation (just not on account of his idiotic tweets).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2016 @ 6:04am

          Re: Inflammatory 101

          Pretty good parody there - lol, good job, you nailed it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Groaker (profile), 17 Nov 2016 @ 7:49am

          Re: Inflammatory 101

          Doesn't matter what he believes. The issue is whether or not his tweets violated the law. To do so:

          They would have had to have been believable.
          The immediacy of the stirrings of emotion would have provoked a reasonable person to instantaneous violence.

          And likely other conditions. A tweet is not going to fall into that category.

          But then who cares about the Constitution until their rights are violated.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:20pm

    Sounds good to me...

    Remember, if you agree with hate speech laws then you have no right to complain about this one.

    Personally I think the police officers involved should be put in general population wearing special pink and white stripes to send a proper message.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:27pm

    Updated

    I've updated the post with the deleted tweet, which was not quite the way Allred described it, though is still protected speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 12:28pm

    can we force law enforcement into psych evals because of THEIR views on the 1st amendment?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 1:57pm

    Nothing surprising here, move along

    So he makes not to veiled threats about a president-elect and shooting people and everyone is surprised he got a visit from the police?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2016 @ 6:05am

      Re: Nothing surprising here, move along

      Well, yes - because such things happen all the time and nothing is done about it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 2:17pm

    Maybe some of you Americans can clue me in as to how burning your own flag is a protest?

    Seems more like a statement of hate for one's nationality and country more than a protest of anything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 2:42pm

    More love and tolerance from the left?

    I guess the peace, love and happiness the left are always preaching only applies to others? Have you noticed how people are all in "fear" of Trump and yet it is the left out looting, rioting, vandalizing and committing assaults?

    Hypocrite much?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2016 @ 6:07am

      Re: More love and tolerance from the left?

      Yup. The only people out there violating the laws of the land are those damned lefties. It is always those lefties, and the righteous God fearing, money loving are always blamed for it.


      Whaaaaaaa

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 4:23pm

    Semantics

    Just switch some of those words for their opposite and this would be BIG news!

    "will the 2nd amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and start shooting at random black people or no?"
    And:
    "if I see any Hillary bumper stickers on the road today, my brakes will go out and i'll run you off the road"

    Voila! Now it's hate speech! Quick! Call the media over-reaction squads!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 16 Nov 2016 @ 8:00pm

    While I don't agree with the NYPD's response, the tweets listed in this article are not the only ones he made.

    https://popehat.com/2016/11/16/true-threats-v-protected-speech-post-election-edition/

    *Those* tweets are likely why he ended up in custody.

    'If I see any Trump bumper stickers on the road today, my brakes will go out and I'll run you off the road.'

    'Will the 2nd Amendment be as cool when I buy a gun and start shooting at random white people or no . . . ?'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Groaker (profile), 17 Nov 2016 @ 9:42am

      Re:

      Again, this is obviously analogy and sarcasm. And if it weren't there would be no immediacy of action. You would leave us a far poorer nation than we already are.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 10:18pm

    Zersetzung

    Alive and well. No thought crime goeth unpunished.

    As for actual crimes, well... that depends on who you are. After all,
    what's the big deal about the wanton destruction of MENA country or
    three...

    Oh, and Padpaw, about the flag-burning? I'll burn your flag too, if
    it'll make you feel any better.

    Just let me know which one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    madam (profile), 17 Nov 2016 @ 12:29am

    I'm surprised that I haven't been visited yet even though I haven't espoused violence, but with the more fascist regime coming, my posts are going to be interpreted as rioting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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