Free Speech

by Timothy Geigner




Las Vegas Police Union Fire Off Whining, Flag-Dripping Request To The NFL To 'Investigate' Michael Bennett For Saying Things

from the 'merica dept

If you have even a passing interest in American sports, you will likely already be aware that Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett has been in the news of late due to an incident that occurred in Las Vegas during the Mayweather v. McGregor fight. Police responded to reports of shots being fired in a casino where Bennett also happened to be and, in the chaos that ensued afterwards, officers put Bennett on the ground and cuffed him as he ran away from the shooting. For his part, Bennett claims the officer pointed his gun at him and threatened to "blow his fucking head off" and that the entire detainment was done without any reason other than his being a large black man. He was quite vocal about the incident on Twitter and during press interviews.

The Las Vegas police, not surprisingly, aren't loving how Bennett is characterizing what occurred. During a press conference of their own, LVPD representatives couldn't answer as to why Bennett was detained at all during the incident, nor could they explain why the detaining officer's body camera was off during the incident. Despite these shrugs at fairly apropos questions, the union representing the police officers, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro, did manage to fire off one of the whiniest letters to the NFL asking them to "investigate" Bennett for... saying things?



There's a great deal there to unpack. The first thing that struck me was how badly the letter attempts to wrap Las Vegas police officers in the American flag. The NFL is currently going through a series of kneeling protests during the national anthem, an expression of rights that has some people quite upset. I'll leave that debate to the side for this post, but by calling the league out for that in the letter before saying it hopes the league won't ignore Bennett's comments about the LVPD, it sure sounds like Las Vegas police seem to think it deserves more respect than the American flag. Which is sort of a weird argument to make.

But the crux of the silliness here is that this is a letter from a police union asking a person's employer to investigate an employee for speech it claims is "false and defamatory." It should be obvious that there are legal relief avenues for the police if they feel they have been defamed. It rings as strange for the same police that detained Bennett to be whining to his employer, begging it to then investigate Bennett's conduct, which consists entirely of speech. The NFL has built a name for itself for its heavy-handed, top-down, overtly political approach to investigating its players. It seems pretty clear that this was a petty attempt by the police to then harass Bennett through his employer as a result of his choosing to speak out about his perspective on the incident for which the LVPD itself could not provide the relevant answers to pointed questions.

To be clear, I am making no judgment on the nature of the incident itself. Whether racism was a factor or not is an open question. That said, harassing a citizen for his speech on Twitter and in interviews by appealing to the authority of his employer is both weak and underhanded.

Update: This post has been updated to clarify that it was the police union that sent the letter, rather than the police department itself. We apologize for the original error.


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  1. icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 3:28pm

    Policing the Details

    Despite these shrugs at fairly apropros questions, the LVPD did manage to fire off one of the whiniest letters to the NFL asking them to "investigate" Bennett for... saying things?

    The letter was written on letterhead for the Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro, Inc. (the union for LVMPD police officers), not the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

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

  2. icon
    Discuss It (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 3:44pm

    Open to question?

    Whether racism was a factor or not is an open question.

    So - how may large white men have been running from gunshots, tackled, thrown to the ground, and told "I'll blow your F-ing brains out!"? And how does that compare to the percentage of each race in the population?

    I don't have any question at all that many police actions normally have an element of racism.

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

  3. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 3:47pm

    Ummm. How did anything happen anywhere on casino property that didn't have 4k video of it recorded?

    Casinos face all sorts of bullshit and video is often their saving grace.

    It is nice to see the union rushing to defend the officers before any actual investigation starting with how do you roll on an active shooter call with no cameras running.

    But the toddler stamping the feet & I'll tell your boss is the latest and greatest efforts to silence people they disagree with. Sadly it works because corporations would rather fire someone than deal with 100 unhinged wingnuts sending hundreds of messages demanding something be done.

    Soon we will be back to My Dad can beat up your Dad with a corporate spin... fucking children.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2017 @ 3:52pm

    In Bennett's telling (from the version I saw) he put emphasis on the fact they stopped detaining him after an ID check. Couple that with no body cam footage and you have to wonder:

    Did those officers plan to scapegoat someone and then stopped when they noticed that person is somewhat famous? Or maybe were they so incompetent that they couldn't keep the body cam working and they'll release a well known athlete over fear of public backlash?

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

  5. identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 12 Sep 2017 @ 3:58pm

    Re: ... and then stopped when they noticed that person is somewhat famous?

    In other words, do only Black Famous Lives Matter?

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2017 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Open to question?

    Racial profiling is a reflex. Given how race and socio-economic status often correlates and given how socio-economic status often correlate with crime, racism becomes universal or a societal problem.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2017 @ 4:11pm

    Cpps are racists

    If your "color" isn't "blue" you're automatically guilty even if provably innocent.

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

  8. identicon
    Pixelation, 12 Sep 2017 @ 5:19pm

    The new Nazi...

    Boy, the signature on that letter sure looks like SS.

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

  9. icon
    OA (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 5:26pm

    Some perspective and background

    There are some pre-existing elements that this applies to.

    1. Rich black male athletes have traditionally been subject to "enthused scrutiny and punishment", powered by disguised racist sentiment.

    2. Recently, black male athletes have been making effective political statements related to the killing of unarmed black males. Police reacted as if the speech condemning the killing was worse than the actual killing.

    3. These political statements are only effective because of sports fame. That fame comes from a single source, the NFL. Unfortunately, the NFL's hierarchy doesn't resemble the players much at all. And besides punishment, often appear insensitive to their athletes' concerns.

    4. That quarterback, that Google says is Colin Kaepernick, was recently "punished" for protesting the national anthem. He felt that the nation as a whole accepted and excused the unjust killing of people who look like him. I hear he does not have a contract specifically because of his conscientious protest.

    The police are aware of their racistly derived political power in this case. Despite being outsiders to the NFL, communal and institutional aspects of racism allow them to have influence over the livelihood of athletes like Kaepernick.

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

  10. icon
    Go5 (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 5:37pm

    Re: Policing the Details

    This is a gigantic detail. The letter is clearly from the president of the police union, and the cited source got this correct.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2017 @ 6:05pm

    Re:

    Orrrr... Did the body cam footage exist and now it doesn't
    (or "can't be retrieved") since it more so supported Mr Bennett's story?

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

  12. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Policing the Details

    I've updated the post -- and want to apologize for not catching the error initially. Thanks for pointing it out -- and sorry for getting it wrong.

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

  13. icon
    TechDescartes (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 6:49pm

    Re: Re: Policing the Details

    No need to apologize. So...apologize for apologizing and we'll call it even.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2017 @ 7:59pm

    Simply put. Techdirt should have stayed out of this one.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2017 @ 7:59pm

    Re:

    ok

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

  16. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 8:00pm

    Re:

    The magical coding strikes again!

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2017 @ 8:06pm

    Re:

    The close relationship with the local PD probably precludes any video coming from the casino of that quality, short of a court order.

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2017 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Re: ... and then stopped when they noticed that person is somewhat famous?

    Famous Black Lives Matter is clearly a better order and yes that seems to be exactly the message.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Sep 2017 @ 9:46pm

    Re:

    Thank you Dr. Numbnuts PHD, for your in depth analysis of the situation at hand.

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

  20. icon
    Eldakka (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 10:30pm

    But the crux of the silliness here is that this is a letter from a "police union" asking a person's employer to investigate an employee for speech it claims is "false and defamatory." It should be obvious that there are legal relief avenues for "the police" if they feel they have been defamed.

    The police union and the police are separate bodies.

    One is a private, civilian organisation who's paying members employment is with the police department. The police is the government body that performs policing functions.

    Therefore it is not the police who have taken issue with Bennett's statements, it is the police officer who has personally taken affront and his union, the police union, appears to be assisting (or working on their own without their member having asked them to assist).

    Since it's the police union that has an issue with a civilian causing problems for one of its members who's employment is as a police officer, why would the police, a different body altogether, get involved?

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

  21. identicon
    bob, 12 Sep 2017 @ 11:11pm

    the signature.

    Did anyone else see the the signature and think that looks like a SS instead of SG? Sure it's just a coincidence but still, work on that hand writing.

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

  22. icon
    Discuss It (profile), 12 Sep 2017 @ 11:33pm

    Re: Re:

    The close relationship with the local PD probably precludes any video coming from the casino of that quality, short of a court order.

    Having worked in the wagering industry for a decade, even if a court issues an order, the video will have been "aged off and deleted before the order was issued".

    Typically, they only keep 96 to 168 hours of video before deleting it.

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

  23. icon
    Teknogrot (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 1:43am

    Re:

    Same avenues are available in either case, and the understanding of the law for either police or police union are, or should be, effectively identical.

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

  24. icon
    Ninja (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 3:27am

    Re: Re:

    It's super effective!

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

  25. icon
    Ninja (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 3:30am

    "it sure sounds like Las Vegas police seem to think it deserves more respect than the American flag. Which is sort of a weird argument to make. "

    This struck me more than the rest of the bs in the letter. I don't think the logic applies to the American flag itself. I'd say law enforcement and the executive branch in general think they are America and deserve unquestioning, patriotic worship. Which explains a lot of the madness.

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

  26. icon
    Richard (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re: Re: ... and then stopped when they noticed that person is somewhat famous?

    Arguably only Famous Lives Matter.

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

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2017 @ 5:30am

    Wow,

    So there defense is that they saw hin hide an run out of the casino. I wonder how many people did exactly the same. Makes you wonder what made him especially suspicoius.

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

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2017 @ 5:56am

    Re: Re:

    There's no question that it existed: they were responding to an active shooter situation. But it's been conveniently denied and will soon be deleted -- if it hasn't already -- because it supports Bennett's story and not that of the lying, cowardly, racist thugs.

    Cops have long since learned to "forget" to turn their cams on, to delete footage, or -- in places like Baltimore -- to stage "re-enactments" to fabricate footage in order to use the bodycams to support their side of the story. This case is no different.

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

  29. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2017 @ 5:57am

    Re:

    As a regular person, I don't see or care to learn the difference. The Union is the police and the Police are the Union. They should conduct themselves accordingly.

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

  30. identicon
    cecil, 13 Sep 2017 @ 6:48am

    Firing off a letter to the employer

    Thank god he wasn't a Nazi, then it would have been fine to fire off a letter to his employer. Now Techdirt, which is it? Can you name and shame or not? Or does it only work one way? Which is not addressing the merits or lack thereof, but simply saying that either speech is a subject that can be taken up with one's employers or it isn't.

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

  31. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 13 Sep 2017 @ 7:26am

    Re: Firing off a letter to the employer

    I'll bite: the degree of shame depends on the degree of offence to the public and to the employer. I've been on the receiving end of a fake name-and-shame attempt where the troll tried to get me fired. It failed. You know why?

    I don't behave that way and the troll could not be contacted to be asked for evidence of my alleged malfeasance.

    The question, then, is not, "Should you name and shame?" but "Would the attempt succeed or fail at sanctioning the targeted individual?"

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

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2017 @ 7:42am

    Re: Firing off a letter to the employer

    Whelp there goes the bet that some dumbass racist wouldent Godwin the thread. Collect your chips ladies and gentlemen.

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

  33. icon
    Ed (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 7:47am

    Police unions are quasi terrorist organizations at this point. They should be investigated on RICO charges, at least.

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

  34. icon
    SteveMB (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 8:10am

    A Suggested Reply

    I request that you conduct an investigation, and take appropriate action, into Michael Bennett's obvious false allegations against our officers. While the NFL may condone Bennett's disrespect for our American Flag

    Being unaware of any "obvious false allegations" from Mr. Bennett or any incidents of "disrespect for our American Flag" by Mr. Bennett, we regrettably cannot pursue these requests.

    We believe that a fair investigation will establish that our officers responded to one of the most dangerous calls a law enforcement officers can be assigned -- an active shooter firing rounds in a crowded casino. As our uniformed officers entered the casino, they observed Bennett hiding behind a slot machine.

    We are, however, able to conduct a fact-based inquiry into this matter. Once we have completed our investigation into why someone at a location where shots are being fired might choose to hide behind a large metal object, we will promptly inform you of our findings.

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

  35. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2017 @ 10:07am

    Funny that a police organization would ask the NFL investigate something. Isn't that what they do?

    As a former Marine, I have no problem with football players not standing for the National Anthem. Obviously there are issues with law enforcement and I think it is good they are bring more attention to this.

    As for Colin Kaepernick, he is not employed because he is not a good enough quarterback. If he was better, someone would sign him. He is probably as good (or bad, however you look at it) as guys that are currently on rosters, but his skills don't overcome the baggage comes with him.

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

  36. identicon
    Anon, 13 Sep 2017 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re: Re: ... and then stopped when they noticed that person is somewhat famous?

    Actually - Green Lives Matter - what's most important is whether you are rich (and so, connected).

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

  37. identicon
    Personanongrata, 13 Sep 2017 @ 11:27am

    Boo-Hoo

    Las Vegas Police Union Fire Off Whining, Flag-Dripping Request To The NFL To 'Investigate' Michael Bennett For Saying Things

    The self-entitled losers in police cruisers have spoken and they demand free hand in administering street justice without the burdensome hurdle of being held accountable for acting like thugs under color of the law.

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

  38. identicon
    Joe, 13 Sep 2017 @ 1:27pm

    LVPD is weak.

    This is insanely weak. They are cops not wimps. Maybe they should have a hot poker stuck up their fanny. Just another example that there is no such thing as a good cop unless you are a cop. The only friend a cop has is another cop. COPS NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!!!

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

  39. icon
    lgusy (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 1:42pm

    To Anonymous coward

    Hey if you are a marine why are you such a coward. That makes our military look weak. We don't need soldiers like you. "FREE KAEP"

    Kaep is better than about at least 1/4 of the starters out there. Remember he took a team to the super bowl. The last few years with 49ers he had no talent around him. With shitty play calling, no wonder he was awful. Tom Brady would not have done any better on those teams. Get your head out of your ass. You might learn something.

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

  40. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Perhaps the gentleman who was handcuffed and detained should sue the casino. The casinos self interest would make sure the video survives, no one likes to pay out millions & no jury would accept that a casino facing litigation somehow let the evidence clearing them get deleted. I gotta think the jury bonus for actively destroying evidence in a case adds a few 0's to the number.

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

  41. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Sep 2017 @ 5:40pm

    Re: To Anonymous coward

    Good one year and crap the next. Welcome to professional sports. he was not good last year.

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

  42. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 13 Sep 2017 @ 9:44pm

    Re: To Anonymous coward

    How the hell is Anonymous Retired Marine a coward, or making the military look weak? (Also, how is "Kaep" not free with regards to this, or is "free now just another word that can be used kind of however anyone wants to now?)

    Never mind this Anonymous rather contradicts himself, even though he has a point, which may be true or not. I have no way to evaluate that and don't care to try.

    Also, replying in-thread helps, even when there aren't ten thousand anonymous cowards.

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

  43. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2017 @ 7:07am

    Re: To Anonymous coward

    When he started his protest, he was a 3rd string QB on a bad team. That is a fact.

    He is not better than 1/4 of the starters out there, if he didn't suck, someone would sign him. Just like Trump shooting someone on 5th Avenue and still not losing votes, if Kap could help someone win, he would be playing.

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

  44. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Sep 2017 @ 7:17am

    Re: To Anonymous coward

    A, Marines are not soldiers, they are Marines. B, quite a few Marines strongly believe in the Constitution and upon induction, swore to uphold it.

    What does B actually mean? It means that when Marines see people violating the Constitution (Cops, NSA, Free Speech, Gun Control, Politicians) they get pissed off. They swore an oath and they get pissed when others who have sworn an oath ignore it.

    People have a misconception about the military, that they are ignorant, that they are stupid. That may be true of the Army and the Navy, but it is not true about the Marines.

    If another revolution happens because our government oversteps, I would imagine Marines will be fighting with the people, not against them.

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

  45. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 14 Sep 2017 @ 11:56am

    Flag-Dripping

    Did you mean flag-draping?

    'Cause flags, as solids, don't drip.

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

  46. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 14 Sep 2017 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    > Perhaps the gentleman who was handcuffed and detained
    > should sue the casino.

    Based on what legal theory?

    Casinos don't have a legal duty to every random person who walks through their doors to preserve video of them for eternity just in case they might have a beef with some *other* person they encounter in the casino.

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

  47. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 14 Sep 2017 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    > no jury would accept that a casino facing litigation
    > somehow let the evidence clearing them get deleted

    The casino isn't facing litigation here. This is a dispute between Bennett and the cops. The casino has nothing to do with it.

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

  48. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 14 Sep 2017 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re:

    > As a regular person, I don't see or care to learn the
    > difference.

    Nothing like finding someone who is not only ignorant, but happily celebrates his ignorance and has no desire to change.

    Well done!

    > The Union is the police and the Police are the Union.

    And now he moves on to outright lies.

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

  49. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 14 Sep 2017 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    > Police unions are quasi terrorist organizations at this
    > point. They should be investigated on RICO charges, at
    > least.

    Absolutely! Libel-slander-RICO, fire in a crowded theater, and five violations of the Mann Act, as well.

    <facepalm>

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

  50. icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 15 Sep 2017 @ 6:33am

    Re: Flag-Dripping

    It's a long-established convention to refer to something with lots of X hanging all over it as "dripping with X"; for example, consider a person described as "dripping with jewels". It probably comes from jewelry, in fact, from the idea of someone having so much jewelry on that some of it is likely to fall off when they get up to move around.

    In this case, it evokes the image of the request document being adorned with so many flags that it's difficult to see the actual contents of the document.

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

  51. icon
    btr1701 (profile), 15 Sep 2017 @ 10:48am

    Re: Re: Flag-Dripping

    > It's a long-established convention to refer to something
    > with lots of X hanging all over it as "dripping with X"

    That's used with reference to emotions, feelings, or other ephemeral concepts, not solid real-world objects. I.e., "Her words were dripping with sarcasm."

    "He was dripping with flags" makes no linguistic sense.

    > for example, consider a person described as "dripping
    > with jewels".

    Yeah, that doesn't make any sense, either, and I've never in my 49 years on the planet heard a bejeweled person referred to that way.

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

  52. icon
    The Wanderer (profile), 16 Sep 2017 @ 4:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Flag-Dripping

    I'm aware of "dripping with sarcasm", but I agree that that is a different usage; it is not the long-established convention I was thinking of. I was thinking specifically of "dripping with jewels" and its closely related expressions.

    I'm a little surprised you've never encountered those expressions, but just as with the many expressions I've managed to go my whole life without encountering (the idea that "whack-a-mole" might properly be spelled without the K, for instance), that doesn't make it any less real. (Though it certainly may make it significantly more irritating! I cringe every time I see a Techdirt article use "whac" as a verb.)

    Google finds plenty of results for "dripping with jewels" sans quotes, although most of them appear to be from "dripping in jewels" instead. There are also plenty of hits for things like "dripping with rubies", "dripping with pearls" (including a song lyric which I think I've run across before), "dripping with diamonds", et cetera, with the same minor caveat. It may not be as universally widespread as I'd thought, but it certainly does appear to be out there in the culture.

    https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/387441/origin-of-dripping-with-sarcasm refers to "dripping with jewels" in the question and some of the discussion, and one of the answers gives a quote from 1860 which includes "It hangs unclasped and heavy with jewelry, dripping with chain, filigrane, and aiglet" (reportedly taken from the OED), one of two non-liquid-based uses quoted there. So unless you're Keanu Reeves, the usage is probably older than either of us.

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


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