Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Land of the Free, Part III

Land of the Free, Part I
Land of the Free, Part II

Even though I have already provided sufficient evidence to support my position that Corporal Chadd was legally obligated to cease contact with me once I'd refused to identify myself, I'm still nowhere near the end of this story, simply because Corporal Chadd repeatedly chose to disregard the law.

Why wouldn't he just leave me alone? Even while this was happening, I was 99 percent certain there was nothing unlawful about my refusal to cooperate, particularly because I'd been through similar incidents with dozens of other cops in almost every state from California to Illinois.

As much as cops don't like being told what to do, almost all cops back off a little once they realize you know your rights and you're not going to let them strip you of your rights. Even then, they still lie to you and continue trying to intimidate you into playing their game. But when they run into someone like myself, who absolutely refuses to compromise, they eventually realize they're not going to get their way. At this point they give you a little more tough-guy attitude before they finally leave.

Could it be that the rules regarding this Indiana incident aren't quite as black and white as the words that make up the rules? If so, then I'm determined to figure it out and better understand why Corporal Chadd continued to treat me like a worthless criminal who has no rights and deserves no rights.

So let's look at this incident from some new angles.

According to the Indiana statute I cited in Part II, regarding detention: If Corporal Chadd did not already suspect, in good faith, that I'd committed an offense prior to his request for my identification, then I had no legal obligation to identify myself. Even if he did suspect that I'd committed an offense, if he failed to inform me of the suspected violation, I still had no legal obligation to identify myself. However, if Corporal Chadd suspected, in good faith, that I had committed an offense even as petty as jaywalking, all he had to do was inform me of his suspicion, at which time I would have been obligated to identify myself to him.

But he didn't suspect that I had committed an offense, which is why he didn't inform me that he suspected I had committed an offense, nor did he allude to any such suspicion in his arrest report. This means Corporal Chadd had no legal grounds to obtain my identification, address, birthdate, driver's license, or anything else I possessed, which also means it was not an offense for me to refuse to identify myself.

Regarding the charge of Refusal to Identify Self: I have never denied that I refused to identify myself to Corporal Chadd. In fact, I most certainly did refuse to identify myself because I already knew the law says I don't have to identify myself to a cop who has no justification to ask me for identification. It's that simple, and this paragraph is all I really needed to write about it.

* * * * *

Here's yet another angle that explains why this confrontation should have ended as soon as I refused to provide identification:

Since Corporal Chadd did not charge me with a violation that would have required me to identify myself, he established that he legally had no business with me. He knew I hadn't broken any laws, and he knew he was legally obligated to respect my Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, which I first invoked when I refused to provide identification.

At the same time that I refused to provide identification, I also stopped volunteering any other information, which is an act protected by my Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate myself.

As a long-time veteran of the Sheriff's department, Corporal Chadd understood that his only legal option was to leave me alone, which, according to his own report, I had already requested. But he still chose not to leave me alone.

Unlike my encounter with the prison guard half an hour earlier, I remained calm during my encounter with Corporal Chadd, and I mostly didn't even talk. I didn't raise my voice or use profanity, even though the First Amendment of the United States Constitution gave me the right to tell Corporal Chadd to go fuck himself if I had felt so inclined.

In case you've wondered: Yes, I have often taken advantage of my First Amendment right to tell cops to go fuck themselves. Having been harassed by so many cops in so many places, particularly during the walk, I figured out their game a long time before I set foot in Indiana. And regardless of the fact that I have occasionally reacted in a belligerent manner toward cops who harass me, I've always walked away without being cited or detained because, unlike Jon Chadd, most cops respect the fact that they must obey the rules that apply to them, even if they don't like it.

* * * * *

I had never been arrested before the incident with Corporal Chadd. I'm not just talking about during the walk; I'm saying I had never been arrested in my life. So now that you know that, surely you think I'm unbelievably stupid for refusing to cooperate with cops, when all I had to do was give them my ID and just wait for them to find out that I'm not a criminal so I could move on without incident.

There's a lot more to it than that.

During the walk, I had to deal with unwarranted police stops every few days, on average. For the first 1,500 miles or so, I almost always cooperated and showed cops my ID whenever they asked for it. But even though I cooperated, I had grown very tired of cops interfering with my freedom all the time, for no reason other than they are very bad profilers.

In Kansas, the frequency of these unwarranted police stops skyrocketed to almost once a day--sometimes even more than once a day--and it finally pushed me past my limit. These police stops stressed me out, and each stop held me back at least a mile, while also keeping me from getting the rest I needed. So about halfway across Kansas, totally fed up with constantly being treated like a criminal by moron cops, I resolved not to let it happen anymore.

If a cop stopped to make sure I was all right, that was fine. I had no problem talking to him, even if it turned into a long chat that subsequently made it more difficult for me to hit my daily mileage goals.

But that's not how it usually went down when cops stopped me. Usually it would begin with the cop asking me a few questions to get a feel for who I am, which I happily answered (just as I did with Corporal Chadd). But after these initial few questions, they would ask me for my identification, which to me is the same as saying:
"We're just going to assume you're a criminal for now, OK, even though you've given us plenty of reason to believe you're not a criminal. We're also going to assume you're too stupid to know your rights because, I mean, you're carrying a backpack, and everyone knows what that means. So, um, why don't you just stand there carrying that heavy backpack out in the hot sun for another 10 or 15 minutes while we hold you up and keep wasting your time?"
So what do you think happened when I cooperated? Yup, I got to stand there in the hot sun, carrying my very heavy backpack for another 10 or 15 minutes. As you suspected, my cooperation ALWAYS led to them finding out what should have been obvious: that I had no warrants and I'd never been arrested.

Don't even hit me with the "But they didn't know" argument here. I established a long time ago that the law says they don't always get to know.

So let me ask you a question (especially those of you who have led a clean enough life to have never been arrested): Do you enjoy being treated like a criminal almost every day?

That's what I thought.

Yeah, well guess what: It turns out that I don't like being treated like a criminal almost every day, either. Imagine that! The difference is that I was being treated like a criminal by cops damn near every day for two or three months, for no reason.

Seein' how I done heard this here America was a free country, I implemented my ass a new policy: I decided I would cooperate with cops until they asked me for my identification. From now on, though, if any cops asked me for identification without justification, I considered it harassment (because it is harassment), and I would stop cooperating with them. No exceptions.

In my entire walk across the United States of America, there was only one other incident in which a cop used physical force with me. Back in Kiowa County, Kansas, I was roughed up and cuffed after I walked away from a Sheriff deputy's unlawful order for me to stop and donate my valuable time to him. Not surprisingly, he ultimately had to set me free after his superior showed up and informed him that I hadn't broken any laws. As much as he didn't like it at first, this cop quickly realized there was nothing he could do except apologize to me and let me go. And even though he broke the law by roughing me up, I left on good terms with him and I actually apologized to him for being a little more confrontational than I should have been.

In this case, my refusal to cooperate actually helped this guy become a better cop because I forced him to realize that he wasn't allowed to do what he did to me. He learned a little bit about the law that day and he probably learned something about the prospective consequences of mis-profiling people, as well.

Most cops aren't stupid enough to behave like Jon Chadd did with me, probably because most cops work for agencies that hold them accountable for their actions. Most cops work for agencies that punish them when they victimize innocent citizens. Unfortunately, the Putnam County Sheriff's Department is not one of these agencies. The Putnam County Sheriff's Department has no integrity, and they actually reward their deputies for victimizing innocent citizens.

There are people talking on the internet about how I was so wrong to expect cops to respect my rights. They don't say it in those words, but they think I should have just done what the cop asked of me because they apparently think it's wrong for me to expect my rights to actually mean something. But does anyone think maybe it might be a little more appropriate to hold the cops accountable for obeying the law and respecting people's rights, even with people who don't know their rights?

I do.

And if I ever hear a story about cops stripping you of your rights, even if it seems like you were a dick and should have just played their stupid game, I will support you. Even if you are one of the idiots who are trying to turn me into the bad guy here, I will support your rights if you are ever stripped of them. In fact, I already have. I protected your rights when I stood up for my own rights.

* * * * *

Regarding the other two offenses I allegedly committed during my contact with Corporal Jon Chadd (not including Possession of Paraphernalia):

I was never actually charged with Disorderly Conduct. Since I was not informed of any of the charges against me until after I'd been taken to the jail, I don't even know why Disorderly Conduct is listed on the arrest report. Perhaps it was dropped almost immediately; I don't know. All I know is that the arrest report is the only piece of legal paperwork I received that mentions Disorderly Conduct.

Similar to the 'Refusal to Identify Self' charge, Corporal Chadd also had no grounds to charge me with 'Resisting Law Enforcement.' A law enforcement officer must be in the act of enforcing an actual law for someone to even be able to resist enforcement of that law. Since Corporal Chadd was never enforcing a law during his interaction with me, it was impossible for me to have resisted the enforcement of a law.

That leaves one charge remaining on the arrest report. You've probably already figured out why the remaining charge was bogus, but I'm not going to dissect the remaining charge until I finish responding to the remainder of the arrest report.

(Continued in Land of the Free, Part IV)

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ER said...

Ryan, I want to say that I was wrong in my previous comments when I said the cop was right in demanding your ID and arresting you for not showing it. I've learned a lot about "Stop and Identify" statutes. It's a complex issue that actually varies from state to state and situation to situation, but in this case, you were in the right. I'm sorry for suggesting otherwise.

ER said...

By the way, there's actually a lot of good information on Wikipedia about this topic: