Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

July 22, 2008

Get Up, Stand Up, Stand Up For Your Rights...

"How many cops does it take to arrest 1 drunk homeless guy who isn't even giving them any trouble?"

That was an email I received from Brian last week, after lunch. I thought it was a new joke or riddle. I'll bite: How many cops does it take to arrest 1 drunk homeless guy? I eagerly awaited the punchline.

Yeah. It wasn't a joke.

Brian went on to explain:

"I was coming back from lunch and I saw this King County deputy pull over to talk to a homeless guy standing on an island thingy, next thing I know I hear sirens and see 3 cop cars screaming back towards them. I figure something's up so I turn around. I get back to where they were and there are 3 cop cars and 5 cops all with lights on etc.

One old homeless guy is already cuffed and sitting on the ground. Here come 2 more cars with 3 cops.

I had a bad feeling since all the cops had those "dick" looks on their faces, so I park nearby and then walk up to within about 30 ft and just stand there on the sidewalk watching (as a citizen observer). Of course the cops don't like that at all. They start asking me what I'm doing, I tell them. They tell me to move on, I say, "No, I'm standing 30 ft away on a public sidewalk, I am in no way impeding you and have told you why I'm here."

Here comes the cop attitude, at which point I advise them they are f**king with the wrong person, I'm not a homeless guy they can abuse or some street punk who runs his mouth, I know what I'm talking about and I'm a member of both the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights. At that point the cop turns away and talks to his buddies, I continue to stand there, observing.

Then they tighten his cuffs and the homeless guy swears at them, they then say they are going to arrest him for swearing at them. At that point I get out my cellphone and hold it up like it has a camera in it. Well you can imagine the reaction that got.

They asked if I wanted to go to jail with him. I replied that I'd already been there more than once, before he (the cop) was even born, and it's no big deal (this really pisses cops off as that is their biggest threat, and when you deride it they HATE it!). They ask me what the camera is for, I told them, "So I could document an illegal arrest. "Illegal?" they say. "Yes" say I, "the Supreme Court has ruled time and again that profanity towards law enforcement is covered under Free Speech." Now the homeless guy is starting to take interest. I see him watching me so I yell to him, "IF THEY ARREST YOU CALL THE ACLU!!" He nods.

Cops have a quick conference and then release the homeless guy and tell him to leave and if they see him again he goes to jail.

Then the cop I had the conversation with says: "And you better hope I don't see YOU around either." I then hold the phone up towards him and ask "Is that a threat Deputy? Can you repeat it a little louder?" HAHAHA, he got in his car and they all left.


The really amusing thing is that Brian doesn't have a camera in his cell phone; he was totally bluffing, but the cops didn't know that. And while Brian was quite animated when re-telling me the story when we got home, I know that he was quite calm when he was talking to the cops. They really did pick the wrong person to fuck with. But seriously, 5 cruisers and 8 cops for ONE drunk homeless guy? Who wasn't even doing anything except maybe panhandling in the island?

....Get Up, Stand Up, Don't Give Up the Fight!


  1. Whst a guy! Kudos to your man, JoJo.

  2. Yeah I know, I'm really proud of him.

  3. in sf, the cops mostly ignore the homeless, as i am sure you're aware.

  4. kathleen9:05 PM

    You're part of the ACLU?

    I think part of me died inside, Jo.

  5. Kathleen - what's wrong w/ the ACLU?

  6. Jojo,that is AWESOME!Tell Brian he is my hero.What IS wrong with the ACLU?

  7. The 'homeless' are attracted to SF because of all the bennies. Then they piss and shit all over the place. Last time I was there it was appalling.

  8. brian,
    where were you when we were all arrested for "loitering and disturbing the peace" when we had a sit-in, protesting the draft and the viet nam war?!
    good for you!!

  9. I'm surprised this wasn't in Chicago. I guess cops are arrogant scum everywhere.

    The ACLU does not always pick their battles wisely, but without them we would have trashed the Constitution decades ago. I'm glad they're there.

  10. Guesss I have a differnt op. of cops having taken care of them in my trauma center after being stabbed by homeless men, shot by hidden snipers and run over by drunks and teen-aged kids with their cars. Guess I've watched too many of them die protecting and seving and Nashville not even NYC or Chicago.

    Still kudos to your man for sticking up when they went overboard. Not all cops are assholes. Just most doctors.

  11. Basric - lawyers too. I should know, I work in law. lol

    Joe - I don't always agree w/ the ACLU, but I have to give them props for defending ALL free speech, no matter how awful some of it is.

    Claire - I know, it was a horrid problem when we lived in SF. In fact, we moved to Marin shortly after they did the sweep of the homeless from downtown. They all drifted into our neighborhood near the beach and we couldn't deal w/ the constant harassment and filth.

  12. Good Job Brian!

    My brother worked at the downtown emergency shelter for the homeless in Seattle. Needless to say, I have a lot of respect for people who stand up for their rights.

  13. the horrid problem of homelessness is
    everyones problem. as long as they are marginalized and herded away, the problem will remain. it is societal-we created it. nobody wants it in their backyard, but nobody (especially government)wants to fix the problems that perpetuate homelessness.

  14. Anonymous3:56 AM

    Great Brian! I do like it when someone stands up for someone else. I try to do that to, hoping that when i'm in a difficult situation i will also be helped. Jojo, ACLU i had to look that up, sounds like a very good organisation. Altough people will not always agree with all their causes, it doesn't mean it is the personal vieuw of the ACLU in general, as far as i understand. Freedom of speech is not easy!
    Elka (Netherlands)

  15. What I don't get about the ACLU is how today's "conservatives" have been so successful at painting them as a liberal organization. Steadfast adherence to the letter of the Constitution and equal application thereof should be a conservative position, traditionally. It just goes to show that the word "conservative" does not mean what it used to by a long shot.

    A couple years ago, I prepared for a post I never actually got around to writing by asking ten acquaintances - from different walks of life and educational levels - if they knew what the terms "liberal" and "conservative" are actually supposed to mean. Not a single one could answer the question, yet several felt very strongly that they were one or the other.

  16. Obviously this was King County shit. This stuff would never happen in Ed Troyer country. I think.

  17. Actually, swearing at an LEO in a public setting IS illegal and an arrestable offense. The supreme court ruling Brian is thinking of is a case that happened where a guy swore at an LEO in a private setting, I believe it was at the police station actually. That in and of itself is not illegal because of the "free speech" thing. The supreme court judge said that cops should expect people to swear at them (BS to me but whatever). But when done in public setting, on a public street, with citizens around? Yeah, that's illegal. And it also depends what that guy said to the cop. He could potentially be charged with assault (assault is a verbal threat, often confused with battery, which is when someone hits you). Otherwise,the swearing would be considered disorderly conduct (which, like I said, is an arrestable offense).

    And, you never know why that many cops showed up. There have been times when I've had 5 cops backing me. Plus, you don't know the history of that guy. Maybe the original cop ran that guy for a rectods check, and he came back with a warrant for murder, or for battery on an LEO. That would get a hot response. So, again, you never know, especially when you witness it from the sideline.

    And badgering any cop isn't going to get you the most friendly response. The cops did what I would've done. It's officer safety, you never know what could happen. From a cop's perspective, not knowing who that person is, yeah, that heightens awareness.

    Anyway, I could go on and on but you already know how I feel about this so I'll leave it at that.

  18. Oh and I wanted to add-

    I'm not tryin to piss you off or Brian off by disagreeing with what he did and how he handled the situation. I personally think he should've stayed out of it. Witnessed? Yeah, sure, but badgering? No.

    I'm just seeing it from the other side. I'm not saying that the cops didn't do anything illegal or wrong. They might have. I wasn't there. But from reading the story? I'm just seeing it from the other side. You just don't know what information they received for it to turn out that way. I just don't believe that cops would run code just to mess with a homeless person. There's something else there.

    Anyway, now I'm done :)

    (Oh and I noticed a typo, that was supposed to be 'records check' in my previous comment)

  19. DP - LMAO!!! I'd like to think that PC is a kinder, gentler county, thanks to good ol' Ed.

  20. BD - No worries my friend....I'd like to think that I can disagree w/ someone, or they can disagree w/ me, w/o it turning into something unpleasant, you know?

    As I did the post, I had you in mind, wondering how you would feel about it, being in the law enforcement field and all. It's why I when we were IM'ing last weekend, I told you about it then. But you know what they say, "a liberal is a conservative who has been arrested." lol ;)

  21. lol! no worries. i knew you were going to make this post, you knew i disagreed with it and it's whatever. the only time it would become personal is if he had done all that to me ;). then we'd have some words lol

  22. well done to your man joj!

  23. Pretty standard in some parts of the rural south... they bust people for just looking strange. It usually starts as "Where you from?" which is a question that is none of their business and that you shouldn't have to answer.

    Refusal to answer is taken as "attitude" and it just accelerates from there.

  24. Daisy - Wow, isn't that exactly how "First Blood" started? See, if they'd just let John Rambo pass thru town, none of the death & destruction that ensued would have happened. lol

  25. Wow, I am surprised he wasn't arrested on the spot. Not that I agree with the situation; sounds like all sides took it a bit too far.

    And you are right jojo; that IS how Rambo started!

  26. Whoever Brian is - nice piece of work! Took nerve too...

  27. ps - keep meaning to blogroll you. Done it now :D