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Which Country is This?

It’s two years ago, so apologies for not noticing this story before. I guess that using the state to crack down on dissenters was so commonplace in 2005 that it just blended in to the background. I only learned of it from my student, Laurence Trias, who blogged the issue here.

The St. Peteresburg Times is usually a great paper, but they really bungled this one.

Protester accused of disrupting traffic

The 16-year-old antiwar demonstrator stood in the road and refused to move, deputies say.

By Times Staff Writer
Published October 23, 2005

PALM HARBOR – A 16-year-old antiwar protester was arrested Saturday evening after sheriff’s deputies said he stood in the road forcing cars to steer around him.

The teenager held a sign with an obscene reference to President Bush, but sheriff’s spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said the arrest stemmed from the disruption to traffic and the teen’s refusal to move.

Deputies arrived at U.S. 19 and Curlew Road about 4 p.m. after a motorist called to complain about the sign. “The complainant had to steer around (the teenager),” Pasha said.

She said the protester cursed at deputies when asked to move but went without incident when they escorted him away.

One witness faulted the deputies’ response. “It was like they came down to shut the protest down and censor them,” said Elaine Skelton, 47, of Palm Harbor.

The demonstration was organized by St. Pete For Peace, whose normal base is BayWalk in downtown St. Petersburg.

Because of his age, the teenager’s name was not released.

He was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, breach of the peace and unlawful use of a state transportation facility – that is, the road. He was taken to the juvenile detention center, then released to his parents.

Last week, Pasha said, the teen was given a notice to appear by St. Petersburg police after he allegedly impeded traffic.

First of all, if a writer is going to report on legal issues, he or she should learn the legal definition of “obscene.” FUCK is not “obscene.” It may be vulgar, profane, or impolite. But, unless it meets the Miller test, it is not obscene.

Second of all, I find it humorous how the police in this state seem to always find “pile on charges” when someone is arrested. I know very few arrestees who haven’t also been charged with “resisting without violence.” In other words “failing to kiss the ass of the arresting officer.” The reporter who wrote this story was so lazy that they just printed the police statement without investigation. Watch the video below, what does the officer claim is the ONLY basis for the arrest?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no “cop hater.” In fact, I proudly take cases defending police officers who need representation for both private affairs and line-of-duty issues.

But, when police officers behave like this, the so-called media has a duty to flesh out the issues. And, no doubt about it, these deputies need better supervision.

Furthermore, I am sick to death of the lies that police officers get away with placing on their reports. I am sick of it, yes, because it has an immediate negative effect upon the arrested person. However, even worse, it turns that badge and that uniform from a symbol of maintenance of peace and security into a symbol of deceit and repression.

Here is the victim’s account of what happened.

And here is a video of the arrest. Funny how they don’t mention any of the “obstructing traffic” issues here. That had to wait until they got back to the station, and someone said “you idiots, you can’t arrest him for this. Lets make something up so we don’t look like ham-headed morons.”

Sorry, mission failed Ms. Pasha.

What is really sad is the fact that if you stood on the corner in Germany and did the same thing, the police wouldn’t THINK of arresting you. How is it that a mere 60 years after the fall of Nazi Germany, that citizens of that country have more freedom than we do?


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