Now that Gatesgate is behind us, capped off by a beer summit at the White House yesterday, what can we get riled up about now?
Well, there’s always something going on with the police. From Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post:
A lawyer who moments earlier had been complaining to friends about police overreaction in the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., got a taste of the Gates treatment himself after loudly chanting “I hate the police” near a traffic stop in Northwest Washington, D.C.
Pepin Tuma, 33, was walking with two friends along Washington’s hip U Street corridor around midnight Saturday, complaining about how Gates had been rousted from his home for not showing a proper amount of deference to a cop….
Then the group noticed five or six police cruisers surrounding two cars in an apparent traffic stop on the other side of the street. It seemed to Tuma that was more cops than necessary.
“That’s why I hate the police,” Tuma said. He told the Huffington Post that in a loud sing-song voice, he then chanted, “I hate the police, I hate the police.”
More from Delaney of HuffPo, who broke the story:
One officer reacted strongly to Tuma’s song. “Hey! Hey! Who do you think you’re talking to?” Tuma recalled the officer shouting as he strode across an intersection to where Tuma was standing. “Who do you think you are to think you can talk to a police officer like that?” the police officer said, according to Luke Platzer, 30, one of Tuma’s companions.
Platzer, by the way, also has a Biglaw connection — he’s an associate at Jenner & Block.
Tuma said he responded, “It is not illegal to say I hate the police. It’s not illegal to express my opinion walking down the street.”
According to Tuma and Platzer, the officer pushed Tuma against an electric utility box, continuing to ask who he thought he was and to say he couldn’t talk to police like that.
“I didn’t curse,” Tuma said. “I asked, am I being arrested? Why am I being arrested?”
Within minutes, the officer had cuffed Tuma. The charge: disorderly conduct — just like Gates, who was arrested after police responded to a report of a possible break-in at his home and Gates protested their ensuing behavior.
Yikes. We know Tuma and Platzer from when we lived in D.C.; we frequented some of the same watering holes. We’re glad we weren’t out with them on this night!
But maybe the officer shouldn’t have messed with a lawyer:
Tuma filed a complaint with the D.C. Office of Police Complaints, alleging a lack of probable cause, a false arrest, and that the officer used harassing and demeaning language — Tuma alleges the officer called him a “faggot.”
Tuma has retained a lawyer. He might sue if he’s not satisfied after a meeting with the complaint office on Thursday. “I have an actionable claim,” he said.
Dropping the f-bomb — lovely. Having just completed a National Conversation on Race, maybe it’s time for a “National Conversation on Gay” (to quote Jim Newell of Wonkette).
Update: We like what one reader just sent us via Gchat just now: “Maybe Tuma and Culp can go to the White House and enjoy a wine cooler together?”
Interestingly enough, the arresting officer, Second District Officer J. Culp, appears to have a history of bad behavior. As reported by the Washington Blade, he’s been the subject of five citizen complaints in the past. Tuma’s complaint about Culp has triggered an internal investigation by the D.C. police.
We don’t know all the facts here, and we may be biased based on our social acquaintance with Tuma (who is supremely cute). But based on what has been reported, Tuma’s arrest strikes us as a load of BS. It’s yet another example of a
washed-up high school athlete police officer lording it over a civilian and abusing his authority.
Indeed, as libertarian writer Radley Balko argues in Reason, “[t]he conversation we ought to be having in response to [Gatesgate] isn’t about race, it’s about police arrest powers, and the right to criticize armed agents of the government.” The tendency of police officers to go too far is something that both liberals and libertarians can agree upon.
Police officers are there to serve and to protect — not to intimidate, go on power trips, and arrest people for exercising their First Amendment rights. Although there’s a divide in the police community over how to deal with lippy citizens, it seems to us that the better practice is for police officers to ignore taunting and invective. The police are professionals, so they should act professionally when dealing with citizens — even outspoken ones. After all, We the Taxpayers are covering their paychecks.
Okay, we’ll get off our libertarian soapbox. What do you think? Take our scientific poll, inspired by the words of those urban bards, N.W.A.:
Disorderly Conduct: Conversation About Gates Arrest Precedes Arrest [Huffington Post]
Man Arrested After Chanting at Police [Washington Post]
Attorney arrested, says D.C. officer called him ‘faggot’ [Washington Blade]
Police Investigate Arrest of Gay Attorney [NBC Washington]