Alaska Troopers Assault Man with Anti-Obama Sign

Published On September 2, 2010 | By Ademo Freeman | Articles

In Alaska, and a growing number of other areas, it appears freedom of speech will get you arrested.  A man who attended the state fair was assaulted and caged for holding a sign with his political beliefs on it.  The officers seemed conflicted on whether or not to arrest the man in the video but choose to use force instead of allow the man proceed with his peaceful demonstration.

Though this video is a scary look into what we’re all facing if we don’t take action against the never ending growth of government.  It was encouraging to see all the people using cell phones to record the encounter as well as voicing their concerns for what most would say is an unlawful arrest.  What will you do when this happens in a city near you?

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Ademo Freeman is an advocate for a voluntary society, one where people are free to live their lives so long as they don't initiate force on others. Ademo has also been involved with other projects such as the MotorhomeDiaries.com, FreeKeene.com and LibertyOnTour.comYou can get more content created by Ademo at his Facebook page and YouTube channel.Enjoy Ademo's post/work? Want to show him your gratitude, simply click here. Thanks in advance for your support, it's greatly appreciated.
  • Volunterist

    Isn’t the Alaska State Fair held on private property?

  • Longtime Alaskan, cop hater

    While I don’t agree with the douche baggy manner in which the troopers dealt with the situation, I feel like this whole thing has been blown out of proportion.

    People are not permitted to distribute political messages without a booth that they have paid for.
    This is because we have this fair for only two weeks. We are assaulted by political propaganda and generally passionate people everywhere we turn, all of the time. It’s just nice to have TWO WEEKS where they can be contained behind a table and we are free to wander about in bliss, before we plunge into another dark, depressing winter.

    This man has taken it upon himself to disregard any rules. Invade our space with a giant, landscape-commanding sign, shout slogans, and then cause a big ruckus when he’s asked to stop.

    All he had to do was exit the fair and he would of had a road packed full of drivers going no faster than 3 mph to campaign to.

    I am very familiar with the predominant gun-toting, bible thumping red inhabitants of this state (not saying, of course, that all of the red members are obnoxious). I simply think that this man does not deserve the victim status he is enjoying.

  • Greg Beaman

    That mass of people had ample opportunity to prevent an obviously illegal arrest. A few big guys from the crowd only had to use the same physical restraint techniques on the security guards as the guards used on the guy exercising his right to free speech. If, as Robert Peel wrote, “the police are the people and the people are the police,” that is exactly what was called for. The police claim those techniques are used to enforce order, so in the interest of enforcing order, the people could do the same thing. No one would have been hurt. But the security guards would have been taught a simple lesson in not acting stupidly. The message would have been clear: the people will exercise their right to free speech in the face of any opposition.

    Another solution could have been of the “I am Spartacus” variety. Get everyone behind the sign. Mob the security guards so that they have no option for arresting anyone lest they arrest everyone.

    The sad part is that once the actual police showed up, they probably would have opened fire. Or at the least got the Tasers out. So we’re back to the issue at the heart of it all: the police are the problem.

  • Rich

    I suggest you find out if this was on public property or private property before you offer a forum for people to slander good peoples names.

    IT clearly shows laziness, irresponsible journalism , it clearly shows why people need laws.

  • Chris Mallory

    Even if it was on private property, the security guards had no right to commit the battery that they inflicted on the man. The “trooper” should be fired for allowing the two guards to continue their crime against the protester. I hope the protester wins a nice large settlement from the agency which supplied the security guards.

  • Hazy

    I agree with Chris Mallory. This may be on private property but security guards can only ask someone to leave. If they refuse to leave they need to call police and let them arrest the person to escort them out.

    Maybe somebody could give us some more information about this fair. Is there an entrance fee? What is their rules on advertising messages?

  • http://reigningbramble.info Reigning Bramble

    @Greg, I love your idea of getting everyone behind the sign. I am glad when people complain from the sidelines and take video footage, but we have to be willing to do more and risk more. If we want to oppose unjust force, maybe we have to act in solidarity with the “criminals,” and be willing to become one ourselves.

  • Keith McQuaid

    C’mon, this guy had no ‘right’ at all to carry a sign around, regardless of the message. He was repeatedly warned and given the opportunity to leave. But no, he wanted to mis-use the concept of free speech in order to get his 15 seconds of fame. He’s just an arrogant and childish bully who was treated with more consideration and repect than he demonstrated, or deserved. You might have a right to free speech but I have the right to toss you out of my house, for any reason at all.

  • Jon

    @Hazy, I don’t think you understand what powers security cards have on private property. If a person comes on your property, invited or otherwise, and then does something that makes you instruct them to leave or stop engaging in the activity, doesn’t that becomes a trespass. Isn’t a trespass a crime? Is a person free to enforce the rules he desires on his property? If so, can the organizers hire security to do the same?

    Copblock is usually bent toward a property rights view. Many videos show the CB guys agreeing with police that they will leave a parking lot if an owner requests because they appreciates property rights.

    I know not everyone is 100% completely like minded, but if a person commits a crime on your property, including refusing to stop an activity or leave at what point can security step in.

    Now, if this is on public land then that brings in a whole slew of constitutional questions regarding the first amendment. There is such thing as reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on speech. But every case is different and it all depends.

    Bottom line, there aren’t enough facts. Although all use of force sucks, the guy was refusing what may have been lawful commands (assuming private property or constitutionally valid restriction on speech). Holding a person in a submissive position isn’t exactly the same as actively beating a cuffed suspect. All-in-all, the force used seemed quite minor.

    End of the day, we need more facts than the video provides.

  • Jon

    Yes, security cards should read security guards. Stupid typos.

  • http://www.bdross.com Brandon

    Doesn’t matter whether they’re cops, “security guards”, or janitors. If you’re employed by the state–and regardless of whether people want to see it or not–the Alaskan Constitution says you have no right to stop them.

  • David

    http://www.alaskastatefair.org/aboutus/media/pressrelease/2010/082710.html

    The Alaska State Fair is a private event. Private event, private rules. They can say who and who cant wear/promote/say/eat whatever they want if they paid for it.

    I find it disconcerting that all those idiots in the vid trying to prevent the “security” officers from doing their job, were, in effect, violating someone else’s rights (the property owner).

    It’s shameful the ignorance abound these days

  • David
  • Jon

    Alaska constitution says you have no right to stop people from protesting on private property? Adam posted this story, isn’t Adam the person who advocates freedom to do as you please with your property. Does that apply to private individuals only? Does it apply to business owers? Does it apply to a group of business owners? Does it apply to a private business?

    According to http://www.alaskastatefair.org/2010/fair/ie/ , the state fair has an admission price and is run by a private corporation. If a private company hosts an event on private property, they have the right to stop any activity they so desire on their property.

    I don’t know about Alaska’s constitution, but preventing a person/company from regulating the use of his own property to manner he so desires seems contrary to the basics of property rights.

    U.S. Constitution certainly does not prevent a business from regulating speech on their property, as the U.S. Constitution protects us from government (Federal first and the State because of the 14th amendment.) but does not apply to private entites, except the no-slavery bit in the 13th.

    Again, appealing to the libertarian/property rights mentality I would think that CB people would at least agree with the Fair’s property rights in regulating activity on their property or venues (again assuming not public property since there is an admission fee). The use of force is a different argument, but tied so closely to the fact that the individual refused to comply with the fair’s demands through its agents (the security guards).

  • David

    Jon gets it…

  • Sam Rall

    I like the part where the terrified Americans all stand around and whine that it was so wrong and they should be doing it.

    All the while not doing a damn thing themselves – pitiful.

    The slaves and the empire are turning pathetic as the new world order succeeds in their takeover.

  • Russell

    I know I will probably be pilloried for some of what I have to say, but I’m simply hoping to extend the debate and have an honest conversation. Here goes:

    There is a debate to be had about what constitutes public space. Perhaps this Fair isn’t public in the end, although with the name “State Fair,” it sure seems public. I would want to know if the state of AK has any money in it…I think that would complicate the definition, regardless of who’s property it is.

    A similar debate raged in my area years ago…around the beginning of the Iraq war, a father and son went to the largest local mall. They bought pro-peace (not anti-war) T-shirts from a store in the mall, and changed into the shirts. Eventually they were told by mall security they must either leave the mall or change their shirts. They refused to leave, and eventually were arrested and charged with trespassing. For weighing “Give peace a chance” shirts. That they bought there.

    The debate ultimately revolved around how the mall has replaced “downtown” as the neighborhood, “public” gathering place. Which, at first glance, it certainly seems to be. If instead it truly is private property (it is), which means the owners can restrict speech (they an) *haven’t we lost a valuable way to communicate with each other?*

    The mall is certainly considered public for some reasons. For example, in this state, the law allows police to come into the mall and arrest someone for “public consumption of alcohol.” So which is it? Public or private?

    BTW, the men lost their case…

    I’m certainly torn…I support private property rights, but I have a hard time thinking that at the State Fair, attended by thousands of people, I could be told what I can and cannot say by a private organization. And then accosted…was it really worth that? (I supposed that last question is a different subject).

  • Greg Beaman

    @Rich: No names were mentioned in the post; therefore no good names were slandered. Hope you can rest easy.

    @Jon: So the fair is on private property. Is the owner of that property really such a baby that he sends goons to terrorize an old man with a crutch over a sign?

  • Chris Mallory

    A lot of it depends on the law in Alaska. Where I live, the only misdemeanor that a citizen can make a “citizen’s arrest” for is shoplifting. For trespassing, you would have to go press charges against the person. There would have been no problem with the security guards requesting the man leave, then standing close to make sure he wasn’t a danger to another person for the time it took the cops to get there and arrest him.
    To the person who made the comment about the “submission hold” , being slammed to the ground and then laid on by a couple of 300 pounders isn’t a cup of tea.

    If this was controlled access, with a requirement to buy a ticket, why was he let into the fair with an eight to ten foot long 2 x 4 in the first place?

  • Widow

    Security hired by a private land owner/private property do not follow the same rules as regular security. Your confusing the types of security rules and regulations. Depending on the security type (meaning non law enforcement) can remove you from privately owned property within the state laws and insurance policies of the land owner and or company. This is why you see different types of security all around the world, some armed some not…but just because there not armed doesnt mean they dont have the right to throw your ass off the property. If deemed so by the property owner and in violation of rules set in place…you are considered tresspassing just like you walking onto someones property without permission.

    Example: You walking onto some farmers property and him warning you repeatedly that you are not welcome here…i can take any means neccessary to remove you from said property, yes calling law enforcement is suggested so that innocents are not harmed, but is not required…AND JUST SO YOU KNOW…law enforcement can be required especially in private resorts and private properties to cooperate with private property security even to the point of the LEO’s being escorted in or met at the gate to recieve the unwanted person.

    Please research more into security.

  • Greg Beaman

    Does it really count as private property if the entirety of the public is invited onto the property for a nominal admission fee? I can invite 100 friends to my house but that doesn’t give me an excuse or a right to beat them all up because they hold different political beliefs than me.

    If I throw a party in my backyard & charge admission, then ask everyone to leave, do I have a right to handcuff & brutalize them if they don’t leave quickly enough? By this logic, John Wayne Gacy was all good for killing people & stuffing them under his porch. Jeffrey Dahmer, too. Heck, they were on private property so they lose all of their rights. Where is the line? Is it OK to assault & handcuff someone? Is it OK to punch someone in the face? Is it OK to deprive them of 1st Amendment? 2nd Amendment? 14th Amendment? We still have laws in this country & being on private property doesn’t mean you lose all rights.

    I know there is a lot more to be fleshed out about the distinctions between public & private property but the very crux of the issue here has nothing to do with property rights. It has to do with several guys assaulting a helpless old guy for no good reason. There were better ways for them to get him off the property other than tackling him & handcuffing him & causing him what appeared to be severe physical pain. It reveals a startling disregard for other human beings.

  • Russell

    The constitutionally protected rights like freedom of speech are prevent the *government* from establishing laws prohibiting such rights. It doesn’t mean that other private citizens, esp on their own property, can’t prohibit certain speech. That’s how your employer can decide what/how you talk to customers, etc.

    Quote: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

  • Russell

    With that said (my last comment) I think this man was treated horribly, and I question the quasi-private nature of this “State” fair.

  • Hazy

    If the State Fair took any tax money whatsoever to fund the fair, then you could argue it’s not a private venue.

  • Jon

    @Russell, all good points. I especially likes the question of whether the shift from truly public downtown markets to private malls has been “worth it?” I don’t think it has, though the price of goods has dropped considerably making those goods accessible to more of the population. In part due to production efficiency and in part to organized competition in the form of more shops competing for the same customers who all have the convenience of walking to the next shop right down the mall.

    The quasi-public status of the fair is troubling, and whether the state is significantly involved in organization and direction of the fair seems significant as well. I recall that private entity may have significant ties with the state to raise to the level of standing in the shoes of the state, but I do not recall how that plays out.

    @Greg, equating beating friends at a BBQ or killing people you invited to your home with ordering a person off your property and then forcibly removing them when it becomes evident they are not going to comply is a complete fallacy. That type of argument doesn’t really make sense.

    First, do I think it is okay to assault someone who refuses to leave your property? Yes, assault just means the unwanted physical contact. I think it is perfectly acceptable to drag a person who refuses to leave off your property. Why should I have to rely on the police for that? I may put myself at risk if the situation escalates and I may end up in trouble because of actions during the escalation, but the initial kicking the person off my land should be allowed.

    Do I think it is okay to elevate the level of the assault to something more injurious than just grabbing the person? That really depends doesn’t it? If I grab a person to remove them and they start freaking out and pulling back and resisting my attempt to escort them off my property. Then I might need to use a little more force. Or should a person be allowed to firmly plant themselves on my property because they don’t want to leave. My house, I no longer want you here. Maybe I’m the ass when I tell you to leave, but that really means people shouldn’t be my friend not that I don’t have the right to tell them to go and then do something about it when they refuse.

    Do I think I can blatantly beat or kill people that come on my land by invitation who say something I don’t agree with? Come on, that is just ridiculous and I think you would be hard presses to find any reasonable individual that believes that.

  • Greg Beaman

    @Jon, The feeling behind my arguments above is that at no time ever is physical force acceptable unless done to prevent imminent bodily injury to one’s self. Private property rights are very important to me but I do not place property rights above the right of myself and others not to be injured, even if someone is acting like an ass. If someone breaks into my home, I have the right to cause them great bodily harm or death to protect my property. If I’ve invited someone over, I would much rather wage a peaceful campaign of attrition until they leave.

    @Russell, I understand the distinctions made in the Constitution and subsequent case law between the government forbidding certain behavior and private individuals doing the same on private property. Legally speaking, that’s all settled. I do think it is in very poor form for a private organization to invite the public to a “state fair” but then act like asses to its guests, especially when the only people that seemed to be bothered by the guy were the security guards themselves (and presumably the people on the other end of the walkie-talkie).

    But all of this still misses the point of the police’s involvement here. In my opinion, when the state trooper flashed his badge, that became an situation in which the state itself began to violate that man’s right to freedom of speech. Private or public property, when he flashed that badge he began to act in an official capacity & he violated his oath to uphold the Constitution. I don’t care who was paying for his services at that moment. Wearing the badge means playing by the rules & he wasn’t playing by the rules.

  • Greg Beaman

    oh, this link has some relevant discussion on private property.
    http://c4ss.org/content/3722

  • Adam Mueller

    I seen this video and quickly did a post on it. I left it vague because I didn’t have all the facts and I wanted to see what people thought about the video without direction.

    That being said my personal thought about the use of force, assuming it’s public property (or even if the private company is somewhat or way funded by tax dollars), was its uncalled for. If its purely private property then, yes this man should have never came and/or left when requested to do so.

    What I wanted to highlight by posting this were the supporters in the crowd. Whether or not it’s private property – it’s encouraging to see so many use their phones (as cameras) and engage the security/officers about their displeasure for their actions. The customers at this venue obviously (for the most part) think this man should have been allowed to have his sign/protest. So if it’s public property the point is made about free speech, if it’s private property the point will be made about free markets. As those who were upset by this will most likely spend less or not return at all.

    As it’s a great example how cameras can be used, instead of violent governments, to hold people accountable for their actions.

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

  • http://www.twitter.com/liberty_matters libertymatters

    Wow. What a video. I hope that made the news. I would really like someone to please post here #1 the resolve of the debate on easements and whether this state fair was simply contracted by a private company- much like Blackwater kills people for the Army- I mean Goldman Sachs… I mean JP Morgan.. I mean Obama… I mean Bush… See how public-private feels sometimes?

    Anyway, #2 I would like to see the latest on this case posted with more detail, and hopefully we will follow up with this man’s civil case- because arguably, greater force was used than was “authorized” as even for libertarians, only enough force greater than the force against you, is authorized, and then not to affect the innocent, and certainly not overwhelming force well beyond the degree of aggression. You only get to be judge, jury, and executioner when your life is threatened.

    Of course he has a right to free speech. Private property does not preclude your rights. You cannot say that because I enter your property I cannot speak my mind. The constitution (as ill conceived as it was) listed negative rights- things for sure the government could not do, that were not delegated away- and as a catch all, basically said that any rights unfortunately not listed would be reserved by the states and individuals respectively.

    All corporations were created by acts of congress. That means they fall under the constitution just as any other law they make falls under it. But if you believe as I do that the Constitution is of no effect and this is all a charade, then natural law applies and the people in the crowd should have assisted the man, detained the security and possibly walked him out if only for a short time to prevent his torture and arrest. He would be free to return under better circumstances. His rights were indeed violated because even if the Constitution is of no effect, Natural Rights control.

    An aside- This is a great test case for property rights because Rachel Maddow and co tried to destroy Rand Paul for his belief in Private Property… Of course she was wrong, especially when Rand said he would not overturn the civil rights act- it should have ended her diatribe. Any business may lose customers for their behavior, and in the end may go out of business, but it is their right to run as they see fit as long as they First Do No Harm, and respect other’s property rights.

  • Widow

    libertymatters says: Of course he has a right to free speech. Private property does not preclude your rights. You cannot say that because I enter your property I cannot speak my mind.

    But the private property owner does have a right to decide if you get to remain on his property…this wasnt about what he was saying….its about how and where.

    I dont give a crap what you scream if you come on my property…point is…i dont want you there.

    Bottom line…private property…different rules….the freedom, liberty stuff doesnt apply here. It was not open to the public for free…pay to get in…accept and follow the rules or get the hell out. Plain and simple.

  • Johnathan Doe

    I work in specialized LE (think airport, parks, K-12, university, etc.). The private-public debate is something that has been going on for sometime. Some places are fully funded by public tax dollars (Governor’s Office, Mayor’s Office, etc.). This means everything from the space to the equipment were paid for with government money. Then you have some quasi-government entities. To me, this includes certain pro-sport venues paid for with some public monies, colleges and universities that get some state funding, etc..

    So the question is: Does government money = free for all? What limits, if any, can government and/or private entities that get partial tax funding, place? Some folks say that they have absolute individual, personal freedom for anything that is remotely publicly funded. This usually use this argument when they are being told they can’t do something they want to do: Political speech, pass out literature, etc.. When I ask them if I had the right to run out onto the field at an NFL game in a taxpayer funded NFL stadium, they look at me stupid and say “No.” Why not? If they have absolute freedom to do what they want on taxpayer provided property, why not me? When I ask if I can go and borrow the fire departments truck to water my lawn, I get the same “No.” Again, what is the difference? I paid for fire trucks in my district, shouldn’t I have a personal right to use it?

    There has to be lines drawn, or nothing will ever get done. Mayor’s can’t use their telephone because the local homeless guy needs to call home and doesn’t have a cell phone. The Governor can’t use his PC to get on-line because a kid needs to play World of Warcraft and all the computers at taxpayer funded Blockbuster/Internet Cafe (a/k/a Library) were taken.

    I don’t think you can reasonably support certain rights over others. You can’t allow a free-for-all when it comes to political speech, but then tell other people they can’t plug in their electrical devices into outlets at the state house. Rules have to be set.

    Oh, and as far as security guards not having the right to use force. In Indiana, there are laws that allow owners/agents of a certain businesses to use force to remove patrons for certain acts. If they employ security guards, they could use force to remove problem people from the property.

  • Bret
  • krista

    I dont care if it was private or public property, why does that even matter so much to be the highlight of these posts? There are rules for everything….even cops. I was a cop myself and even though protocol does change with different areas of responsibility…there are still the appropriate levels of force. Just because this guy was running his mouth did not give them the right to put him in on the ground in the first place.Too make it worse, the 300 pound security guy kept his knee in his back for almost five minutes….WELL AFTER he stopped resisting. The guy even told them he was disabled (like the crutches didnt give enough proof of that). I understand disabled people are just as capable of violence and commiting crimes as non disabled people, but none of that gives them the excuse for the level of force they used. Not only should they be fired, but the supervisor that was on the other end of the phone in the beginning of the video…or whoever gave the order to take action. Their job is to make good responsible decisions and if they cant even do that in a situation like this, what is going to happen wihen it really hits the fan???

  • bfk

    Volunterist asked:

    Isn’t the Alaska State Fair held on private property?

    That’s true, but the property owners “invited public use” of their property, negating their right to restrict public speech. I don’t agree with his sign, but I’m a combat vet who fought for his right to display it. I wish I had been there. There would have been 2 arrests in the video (and one more civil suit against the property owners, the private security company and the state police).

    I hope some crack Alaskan lawyer mans up to help this guy file suit.

  • Patrick

    Time to FIGHT back! I voted for Obama, This guy has rights and they were violated! SHAME ON ALASKA!