Police

As Walter Sobchak might say: Lady, I’ve got buddies who died face down in the muck so that I could enjoy the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, the police arrested people for dancing in the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Can you believe it? On the very weekend we are supposed to honor the sacrifices of our military, the police are going around and dishonoring the very ideals those men and women have fought and died for.

Unless you think we send our military all over the world so the nation’s capital can be a dance-free zone, like the town of Beaumont in freaking Footloose….

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Of course this happened. Of course Andrew Meyer, the University of Florida student who was famously tased during a John Kerry speech, ended up going to law school. Of course a law school looked at Meyer’s history of barely civil disobedience and resisting police and said, “Come on down.”

And really, Meyer’s story isn’t even the craziest law school matriculation story out there today. Not in a world where a 15-year-old kid is trying to figure out which law school he’s going to.

Which institutions of legal education are welcoming these students with non-traditional life stories?

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UVA looks tranquil -- but looks can be deceiving. (Yes, I know this is a picture of the Rotunda on Central Grounds, not the Law School. But I took it myself, when I spoke at UVA a few years ago, and wanted to use it.)

Just out of curiosity, I took a look at the academic calendar for UVA Law School. It turns out that they’re right in the middle of spring exams (which started on Monday, May 2, and finish on Friday, May 13). I can’t imagine trying to study for or take exams amidst this kind of upheaval.

And, as it turns out, the Johnathan Perkins controversy isn’t the only thing happening at the law school right now. On Friday, a 2L at UVA, Daniel Paul Watkins, was charged with stalking and assault by university police.

UPDATE (8/31/11): Daniel Watkins has been cleared of all charges.

This incident is separate from L’Affaire Perkins, but some suggest there’s a connection….

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I wonder what Sally Hemings would say to Johnathan Perkins.

UPDATE (4 PM): The dean of UVA Law School, Paul G. Mahoney, has issued a statement about the application of the University of Virginia’s Honor System to the Johnathan Perkins incident. We have reprinted it after the jump.

White law students lie all the time and nobody makes a big deal about it, but now there’s a black law student who lies about something, and people are throwing a fit? That hardly seems right.

Look, whether or not white people want to believe it, racism is an important issue. It’s an issue that they don’t think about nearly enough. While Johnathan Perkins might have fabricated some of the details of his late-night run-in with the law (or at least university police), his goal of bringing attention to on-campus racism was laudable — and should be advanced by any means necessary.

I’m just warming up. Let me tell you what I really think about the Johnathan Perkins controversy at UVA Law School….

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Johnathan Perkins

It’s time for more race-related drama from UVA Law School. Back in February, Elie wrote about a UVA Law party that featured Confederate flag decor. Now I will tell you about a 3L’s fabricated tale of racial harassment by university police.

(Yes, Lat’s writing this story. So you can relax, UVA folks — at least for now. Maybe Elie will take a crack at it on Monday.)

In late April, Johnathan Perkins, a third-year law student at UVA, wrote a letter to the editor that was published in Virginia Law Weekly, the law school’s student newspaper. In his letter, Perkins claimed that he was harassed by UVA university police while walking home from a party, purportedly on account of his race (he’s African-American). Perkins said he was moved to share the story “because it is important for my classmates to hear a real-life anecdote illustrating the myth of equal protection under the law.”

The trouble is, it was anything but a “real-life anecdote,” as Perkins himself recently confessed….

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Canadian police might not know the difference between law students, Kim Cattrall, and victims of sexual assault.

Sigh.

You know, I kind of get what this police officer was trying to say. When speaking in front of a group of law students at Osgoode Hall Law School, a Toronto cop told women they could avoid sexual harassment and assault by not dressing like sluts.

As a black person, I’ve heard similar things. If you don’t want to get racially profiled, “don’t dress like a gangbanger” and all that. And that kind of advice is true to some extent. It’s not “fair,” but you have to be aware of how you present yourself.

The thing is, what kind of idiot white male cop thinks that female law students don’t already know this? I think women at a law school in Canada know damn well that they can’t walk around campus dressed only in a bra and hot pants. They should be able to walk around in whatever the hell they like without being sexually assaulted, but they know how the world works.

When did dress sense become a safety tip?

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Good Samaritans are supposed to help strangers, not beat them up.

Joke about Good Samaritan liability all you want, but we’re about to talk about an interesting case that is right on point.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports on a lawsuit that has been filed in New Jersey. Keith Briscoe was killed during a scuffle with Winslow Township police officer Sean Richards and other men who came to the officer’s aid. Some of the men were cops, while others were random citizens — so-called “good Samaritans” — who had no idea what was going on but tried to help out the cop anyway. All of them are being sued in a civil action brought by Briscoe’s family members.

I hope Briscoe’s family wins.

I don’t know about you, but when I see a cop and a citizen having an argument or even getting into a fistfight, I don’t assume that the cop is in the right. I don’t assume the cop is addressing the situation with the best intentions or proper motives.

But I don’t assume that the cop is doing anything wrong either. I simply don’t assume and go about my business.

I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I do think I’m in the minority. And I think it’s about time that some in the majority feel some heat for making, and then acting upon, faulty assumptions that reflexively favor the police…

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As a deeply self-loathing Asian-American, I do not support Asians shooting white people. The white people were nice enough to let us (or our ancestors) into this great country of theirs; the least we can do is show some gratitude.

In addition, as an emasculated Asian male (is that redundant?), I don’t like guns. Of course, I respect the Second Amendment, and I’m not endorsing any specific gun-control legislation. Legal and constitutional questions aside, I just think that guns are icky and scary and bad, and the world would be a better place if nobody had them.

Given all my weird hang-ups about Asians and guns, I probably wouldn’t have made it on to the jury in Commonwealth v. Ung. The criminal trial of (former?) Temple Law student Gerald Ung — a gun-toting Asian accused of shooting Eddie DiDonato, a former Villanova lacrosse captain and the son of a prominent Fox Rothschild partner — got underway in Philadelphia this week.

And Ung’s lawyer, defense attorney Jack McMahon, seems to be standing up for the right of his client to shoot some bros — in self-defense, of course….

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Alleged jaywalker Takara Davis

The nerve of some people. There’s a little girl in Las Vegas who was hit by car. She’s 13-years-old and in a medically induced coma.

Allegedly, Takara Davis was jaywalking when she got hit. So a police officer showed up at the hospital and gave the ticket to her mother, Kellie Obong. Why did they hand the ticket to the mother? Because Takara was busy being rushed to the operating room as the doctors tried to stop the bleeding in her head…

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Listen, little Johnny police officer, the Taser is not a toy.

As an overweight man, adult onset diabetes is one of the things that makes me consider dropping a few pounds. But I’m still so young, so invincible, that long-term health concerns aren’t really enough to stop me from having an extra helping of Christmas goose (not that I even know anybody who eats a freaking goose like some character in a Dickens novel).

But overaggressive cops beating the crap out of me because of the color of my skin? That is a real threat. That is a “health concern” I respect. I know that, for instance, I should never ever jog with a golf club if I want to avoid police suspicion.

I didn’t think that having diabetes could lead to a police beating. But according to a lawsuit filed by John Harmon against the sheriff’s department in Hamilton County, Ohio, that’s exactly what happened to him. Harmon alleges that the cops kicked the crap out of him because he was driving while having diabetes.

Driving with diabetes while being black, of course…

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