Thursday, January 27, 2011

Land of the Free, Part II

Since I've already shared the entire arrest report in Land of the Free, Part I, I'm now going to counter each segment of the arrest report and re-tell the story from my perspective. I will not go out of my way to make myself look like a protagonist here; I'm simply going to tell the truth because I have nothing to hide.

For the remainder of this post, red text signifies excerpts from the arrest report, while my contributions are shown in black text. Gray text represents text that I've copied and pasted from external sources.

On 7-24-2010 at approximately 7:37 p.m. I was dispatched to a suspicious person complaint on US-40 near the Putnamville Correctional Facility. I was advised by dispatch that the subject was walking eastbound near the prison and that DOC employees had attempted to make contact with the subject and he became belligerent and continued walking east.

I do not dispute the truthfulness of the above account, but I have plenty to add. Here's what really happened:

It all began near the prison, as I walked east on the shoulder of westbound US 40. Minding my own business and wearing a reflective vest (as always), a prison guard stopped his vehicle in front of me and exited the vehicle to confront me.

The guard quickly told me it is illegal to walk on US 40 near the prison. On the edge of the prison grounds, he said, there are signs posted to inform pedestrians that it is unlawful to walk in the area. However, as I suspected from the beginning, everything he said was a lie. First of all, as I found out later, there are no such signs. Furthermore, it's perfectly legal to walk near the prison on the road surface or shoulder.

This guy wasn't trying to be helpful. Rather, he stopped specifically to fuck with me. However, since I was not on prison property, nor had I ever been on prison property, he had no authority to confront me, which means I had no legal obligation to acknowledge his presence. Still, I cooperated with him for a few minutes, giving him a chance to figure out what should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain: that I was just walking through, and that I was no threat to anyone or anything. But he couldn't figure it out, and soon he demanded that I show him identification.

I don't play that game. That is, I don't play that game unless the law enforcement officer has a valid reason to ask for my ID. For example, when I was caught riding a freight train, I totally cooperated with the railroad cop because I'd actually broken a law and he caught me. See how that works?

When the prison guard demanded to see my ID, I stopped cooperating because this is the point at which an inquiry becomes harassment. As he tried to intimidate me, also stealing my valuable time from me, I quickly became defensive and raised my voice to assert my displeasure with his harassment. Not far into our exchange, I informed him that this is the United States of America, and in the United States of America I am free to walk down the street without being hassled by people like him.

He then said, "Well, I fought for your freedom in Vietnam," to which I responded, "Yeah, you fought for my right to walk across this country without having to worry about being harassed by cops or prison guards."

He didn't get it.

For the record, I don't believe he fought for my freedom. Last I checked, my constitutional rights existed for almost 200 years before the Vietnam War began, and no Vietnamese ever tried to strip me of these rights. But hey, if it made him feel good to believe he went there to protect my freedom, then I thought this was an appropriate time to point out that he was currently trying really hard to strip me of my freedom. I figured maybe this would create some moral friction within him to make him realize it's a good time to stop being a prick.

He still didn't get it. The sad part is that he fancied himself a hero or a protector, even though he obviously enjoyed trying to create misery for others.

After putting up with his harassment and arguing with him for several minutes, I simply walked away, against his wishes, resuming my walk east along US 40. And he didn't follow me, either on foot or in his vehicle, because he knew he had no authority to detain me. Instead, due to the fact that I'd so effectively hurt his feelings (which he deserved), he contacted the sheriff's department and lied yet again by reporting that there was a suspicious person walking near the prison.

Now back to the arrest report.

When I arrived in the area, I observed a male subject sitting in the grass on the north side of US 40, just east of the Lincoln Park Speedway entrance.

At this time I exited my commission to make contact with the subject. Upon approaching the subject I asked if he was alright, to which he responded that he was. At this time I asked the subject if he had recently had contact with employees of the DOC to which he stated that he had. At this time I asked the subject for identification to which he responded he was a US citizen and that he did not have to tell me anything. I again asked the subject for identification to which he again stated he was not going to comply with my request and that I should leave him alone.

This occurred about half an hour after the incident with the prison guard, more than a mile from the prison.

To be clear, I actually said, "This is the United States of America," which has a much different meaning than "I am a US citizen." You may have noticed a trend here. Yes, when I get harassed by cops, I am very fond of reminding them what country we're in because they know exactly what I mean when I say it. And if they don't fully grasp my message, I make it clear that I know my rights and I don't plan to surrender my rights to someone who is paid to protect me.

Anyway, if you think I was unnecessarily or unlawfully obstinate with the guard or the cop, here's where you get to start learning what freedom really means.

In the United States of America, cops have more rules to follow than do civilians. The following is an Indiana statute that establishes what conditions must be met before a law enforcement officer may lawfully detain someone:

IC 34-28-5-3
Sec. 3. Whenever a law enforcement officer believes in good faith that a person has committed an infraction or ordinance violation, the law enforcement officer may detain that person for a time sufficient to:
(1) inform the person of the allegation;
(2) obtain the person's:
(A) name, address, and date of birth; or
(B) driver's license, if in the person's possession; and
(3) allow the person to execute a notice to appear.

Nowhere in the arrest report does Corporal Chadd establish that anyone had committed an infraction or ordinance violation. Nowhere in the arrest report does Corporal Chadd establish that he witnessed or even suspected that anyone had committed an infraction or ordinance violation. Nowhere in the arrest report does Corporal Chadd establish that I seemed suspicious.

According to the law, by this point of the arrest report, Corporal Chadd no longer had any business with me. Having investigated the report of a suspicious person, he did not find a suspicious person when he contacted me. And even if he did think I seemed suspicious, it's not a crime to seem suspicious. As a well-trained law enforcement officer, he should have concluded that he had either established contact with the wrong person or he had responded to a false alarm. With nothing more to investigate, Corporal Chadd was now obligated to cease contact with me and go back to doing his job.

If Corporal Chadd truly believed there was anything suspicious about me, then he had every right to keep an eye on me for as long as he wanted until I reached the county line. If during his surveillance he witnessed me commit a crime, then he would have had every right to arrest me, demand my identification, and take me to jail. It really is that simple.


(Continued in Land of the Free, Part III)

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