“Police Force Man from Hobby and Park” by Achilles
I’d like to thanks Achilles, who’s been following CopBlock.org via FB, for submitting this post about the police encounter they had recently. Feel free to provide Achilles some feedback in the comments and remember you too can submit a story to CB.org. It’s as easy as emailing us your story or video (maybe both).
Public property, and what is legal on it, has been challenged and twisted by cops, for as long as people can imagine. Despite the laws that clarify the right of free expression on public property, police love to deceive and twist what those laws say, to their advantage and gain. There is one question that comes to mind, when dealing with a majority of public property issues: If there is no victim, how can there be a crime?
I would like to share a situation that happened to me inorder to show you how police don’t care about “rights” and what is on the books. It also shows how police are able to create crimes without victims.
I decided to practice my parkour skills (freerunning) yesterday, so I went down to the local park. This park is off of a school, but is nonetheless, public. I went there after school hours, as well, out of respect of the students at recess and the teachers. When I do parkour, I like to wear my Guy Fawkes mask, just because. I have worn it for protests, but that isn’t the case here, and wasn’t trying to make a political statement, by wearing it. It was just something to have fun with and part of my expression. I would also like to mention the Michigan law on masks that states, “A person who intentionally conceals his or her identity by wearing a mask or other device covering his or her face for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a crime is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.” The law clearly states that I have the right to wear a mask, so long as it isn’t to facilitate a crime.
I was having fun, working on upper body strength, on the the bars in the park, when I was yelled at by a janitor of the school, who said that I looked suspicious with the mask on and was scaring teachers. I informed him that I was just practicing parkour and wasn’t trying to scare anyone. Mind you that he didn’t step onto the park and that I didn’t step onto the school property. I was also the only one in the park. No kids or adults were in the park with me. He then informs me that he is going to call the cops if I don’t leave. At this point, I was kind of in shock of what the man had just said. Who had I harmed? Who did I bother? I felt confused as to why the man was so hostile towards me, when I was no threat to him and was simply minding my own business, having fun. I informed him that I was not harming anyone and didn’t intend to, and that the park is public property. He the says to me “OK, take your chances” and walks back into the school.
My confusion continued as I continued to train. A time of about five minutes passes, and I look up, and there is a squad car. I stop what I am doing, take my mask off (out of respect when talking to someone. I did the same when talking to the janitor) and walk over to them, as they motioned for me. The police officer asks me what I am doing and I said I was training for parkour (luckily they knew what it was). He then asks what the mask is for and I told him that it was just something I wear, when parkouring. The officer then proceeds to tell me that his “boss” told them to “come down here and find a reason to put you in jail”. At this point, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Before the cop even knows the situation, he says he has the intent to take me to jail. For what crime? Who did I harm? Where is the victim? I responded with a hysterical “what?” and proceeded to ask why. He said it was because I was “scaring teachers” and that they have had problems on the park before. I said to him ” I was under the impression that this public property” He then repeats that they have had problems on the park before. I then ask them if they know of any other parks that I can go to, and they supply me with a couple places (one being the OTHER school) and the other officer says “Yeah, but go without the mask”. I said to him “I don’t mean to challenge you, but the Michigan laws states that as long as I am not doing anything illegal, that I can wear a mask on public property.” He then goes on to say “well, if you wear the mask, we are going to get called”. I asked him if I took off the mask, could I stay in the park, and he responded with a flat out “no”. I went a long with all of this, and left the park property, and waited on the sidewalk, for some friends that I was going to be training with, because I knew if I challenged anymore, they would try to take me to jail, and i didn’t have a video camera, to prove to a judge, what happened.
The moral of the story is, carry a camera, and film police encounters. Police will do what they want, regardless of the many laws that are put in place. If there is no victim or no crime one will be created by police. We need to ask ourselves: how long will we let them do this? Why do we let them do this? How can a person, who has done nothing illegal, harmed no one yet be asked to leave a public park? Is enjoying yourself a crime?
A video camera is your biggest ally. How would that situation have gone if I was filming them and had proof of the stampede on the constitution that took place? Bottom line is that we need to hold cops accountable for their actions. Film every encounter with police and get their names. Sooner or later, the people will regain control and we can all live the better life that we have dream of.