Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Perhaps you think this is a minor thing but when you see what can happen when people dance, you can better understand how the police can break into someone’s home, shoot the owner, and then watch as he dies (more here) while preventing paramedics from helping.


I wonder what the official reason will be.

The officers feared for their safety.

They are closed-minded, skiddish armed and armored highly-trained paranoids so we don't have to be.

In fact, if you aren't willing to undergo such sophisticated 'training' you probably shouldn't be allowed to carry a gun, according to Bill Maher, et. al.

The whole point of liberty is that you can do what ever you want until it infringes on other peoples ability to do what they want. These people set out to deliberately confront the police and make a scene, infringing on the ability of everyone else to enjoy the monument.

I think these officers behaved entirely appropriately, and removed a bunch of people who were causing a disruption, resisting arrest, and causing an unsafe environment for normal Americans trying to enjoy a day at the monument.

Actually, the whole point of liberty is that you can do whatever you want until it infringes on other people's RIGHTS.

I'm sorry, but while you may want to visit a monument in peace and quiet, you don't have a right to. On the other hand, you do have a right to public assembly and expression.

Except when said public assembly and expression has been expressly forbidden by a judge.

here in las vegas, cops have taken that "feared for my safety" whopper to a whole new level. there have been *several* instances in which an unarmed man was gunned down because the cop later testified he "thought he saw the supect make a furtive move towards his waistband". that line has been used verbatim in pretty much each & every one of the kabuki-theater "coroners inquests" (police success rate since 1970: 99%+) held after such an incident. i'm pretty sure they teach it to the new little hitlerjugend in each new po-leece academy class.

i rather suspect the legion of cameras rolling saved some lives that day. or does anyone here really think the cops wouldn't have started tasing away - at the very least - at those sinister terroristic dancers if they didn't know they were being filmed?

>> The officers feared for their safety.

What?? They weren't even Rick-rolled.

Though, legally, they might be forbidden from doing it on the grounds that the Federal government can regulate its own property as it sees fit.

I thought "the government is us?" Oh wait, you are right, that bromide is just self-serving opportunistic twaddle.

I would counter that if true, they would have to regulate their property legally, rather than how they see fit arbitrarily.

Including the right of peaceful assembly?!

Something tells me that some police officers choose their occupation in order to use force and boss people around.

It's fine. We need to do something with the people who didn't make it into the NFL. But the time comes when it is our job to reign them in to at least feign civility and remind them of the concept of citizen peacekeepers. That time is now, even if the majority won't realize it for 5 or 10 more years.

I think a lot of police do in fact get drawn to this occupation because it allows them to use force and act like a "big man". I know someone who wants to become a cop and this generally fits his personality.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
Thomas Jefferson

"They would fire at a rainbow if it had
A colour less than they were taught."
Patricia Beer

Or more. Pretty good summary. We don't need 'normatization by cop.'

Cut any fellowship ties to the people and give them fitties or predator drones and you get what we have in Afphiraqistan.

"He's got a shovel, most people don't carry shovels...Insurgent!!!"

"He's driving a ginormous armored tank menacing bystanders with weaponry and everyone scatters to get out of his way...he's one of ours."

The lobby group Slave-owners for Liberty would be appalled.

I'm picturing a sit-com: "Damnation! I'd have more peace and quiet without this constant confounded drama! Don't these people know I'm trying to redeem humanity!"

Too soon?

This level of overreaction is bad but it can be much worse. The link is to police car video of a pedestrian shot by police in Seattle.

No charges filed against the cop who killed the guy basically out of the blue. As long as policeman says that he feared for his own safety, he is free to kill anyone around. That's the reality today.

Thank goodness there's no history of private enforcement ever being inappropriate!

Paul Blart, mall cop, barges into home, kills family.

I understand the concern. Yet the lawyer in me also understands that freedom of speech and assembly is not unlimited - reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions are allowed. That said, the force did seem excessive and the attitude bullyish.

The "dancers" were being told to not resist - a request these dancers clearly were not complying with.
If a person does not comply with police instructions, what do you suggest police do?
If all a person has to do in order to avoid arrest is not comply with police instructions, anarchy will ensue.

And yet when a cop gives an illegal instruction, what should you do? File a civil rights suit after he's done curb-stomping you?

You wouldn't get curb stomped if you complied with police instructions.
If you believe the instructions are illegal, file a lawsuit; get your congressman to change the law; request a permit to hold a rally.
Pursue your request in a civil manner.
What if I decide that the best way to pursue my free speech is to stand outside your house 24 hrs a day a blare loud music?

Sometimes peaceful resistance is required to protect the rights of a minority

"What if I decide that the best way to pursue my free speech is to stand outside your house 24 hrs a day a blare loud music?"

I don't know what the right answer is, but I know it's not "break into your home, shoot you, and then watch as you die while preventing paramedics from helping."

vicki weaver was unavailable for comment.

You wouldn’t get curb stomped if you complied with police instructions.


What else can you do? Do you really think that yelling and resisting like they did help in any way?

If anything, it gives justification for police overreacting. It is really a dumb strategy in my opinion.

The police are supposed to be trained professionals. They should be trained to behave rationally and objectively, not being governed by emotions.

I agree very much. Whatever the initial cause ofr arrest may be, once the protesters actively resist arrest (even passive resistence may count too), they fully justify violent treatment. The law does not permit resisting arrest physically. If you object, you should indeed go through a court of law.

I don't see any resistance. You've got one guy standing with his hands in the air getting body slammed and another guy laying passively face down on the ground while the popo kneel on him and generally work him over. The photographer stood quietly the whole time and then got confronted for seemingly no other reason than that he had a camera.

You are not being honest. The individual being body slammed was holding his hands out to prevent being handcuffed. While it is true that his actions were entirely peaceful in nature in that he made no attempt whatsoever to attack the law enforcement official, he was indeed resisting arrest. As for the individual on the ground, he was refusing to allow his other hand, the right hand I believe, to be handcuffed as well. That is resistence too. It is called resisting arrest, not fighting back. I don't see any commenters claiming that the protesters were fighting back, just that they were resisting arrest.

- "If a person does not comply with police instructions, what do you suggest police do?"

Well, we could shoot them and then watch them bleed to death on the floor. That'll learn 'em.

Sorry, but I would be really pissed if I was visiting a national landmark and some self-absorbed kids were there selfishly putting on an exhibition ONLY to get a rise out of people. If they had an ACTUAL point I would support them. But no, when their foray into making a spectacle out of themselves took a turn for the worse, the pulled the "Free Speech Card". This was a "Hey, look at me! I am standing up for free speech!!" (more like wanting to make a video for You-Tube). Does anyone care about propriety anymore? Sorry, but it is MY public space too. What if young people were dancing at ALL the landmarks you visited in D.C. with your family? This would be fine with you? This was NOT free speech they were practicing. It was rude behavior that negatively impacted other visitors. Yes, you have a right to be a horses-ass, but not when it infringes on my rights. Why is a little respect for other people in appropriate venues too much to ask for?

It's one thing to think that people can't dance at specific national landmarks. But the level of force used against them seemed disproportionate, no? Police seem to enjoy being brutal.

The dancers were being told to not resist. It is clear from the video that they refused to comply with these simple instructions.

If a police officer is trying to maintain order and a person refuses to follow instructions, what would you propose the police do - stand by and watch until the protesters decide they're finished?

So you think that legitimizes throwing someone to the ground rather than, say, just dragging them away?

Yes. It does, actually. Resisting arrest is going to get you hurt, irrespective of whether or not the arrest is legal or legitimate.

Why are some folks so insistent on conflating the two? If a police officer illegally arrests you, calmly comply with their instructions while asserting your belief that it's a wrongful arrest. Resisting is going to get you absolutely nowhere.

Of course. Resisting arrest is illegal. You should understand this. The level of violence was generally suitable to the level of resistence, in that since no violence resistence was offered, the police did not use excessive violence either, just what was necessary to overcome the resistence and detain the offenders.

So if a police officer commanded you to perform felacio on him, you would calmly do it? If it is illegal, you still have an obligation to comply, right.

Actually, if you're attempting to subdue someone you should use overwhelming force. I think arresting them for what I understand was some sort of public "dance-in" protest is silly, but I don't see any brutality in the videos; indeed the first person "thrown to the ground" (00:26) gets thrown by that idiot in the brown shirt, not one of the cops. I am a little sick and tired of the "you can't record this" business from the cops though. I don't generally like this sort of federal intervention, but on the recording thing, we need a federal law criminalizing attempts by police to restrict that practice.

Whatever happened to treating rudeness with social sanctions? The stink eye, muttering to friends, shaking heads, asking the offenders to tone it down -- all classic techniques.

Why treat rudeness with social sanctions when you can have cops wrestle them to the ground?

In a free society, the right to say what you will trumps the right not to be offended. We should allow people to be ignorant, ill-mannered, obnoxious; to condemn themselves by their boorishness. ~ Daniel Hannan

So you'd be OK if I decided to stand outside your house and blare loud music 24/7?

Is that what happened in this instance?

No, I never said that I would be. Blasting music at someone's house 24/7 is harassment as far as I’m concerned and should be dealt with as such. However, merely dancing in a presidential memorial to me is not harassing anyone, some people may not like it and prefer that they didn’t do it but it is not causing harm, whereas if you kept me from sleeping because of your music then you are causing me harm.

Cue mental image of John Cusak being thrown to the ground and cuffed.

Freedom means letting other people do things you don't like.


The good thing that such encounters do is bring out police high handedness into the public glare. Many more egregious abuses of police power take place daily but never make it to the front pages unfortunately.

Thanks for the reply without an ad hominem attack like so many do. I agree with you. I am not supporting this particular police reaction just the fact that, in my opinion, it DID require a police reaction.because of the time and place. I dont think that point should be controversial.

Seriously? What if old people were bringing children to all the landmarks? Should I have freedom from that? Children make noise and say stupid things. What is it about sort of lamely dancing that you find so disruptive? This isn't how I would choose to express myself but in public spaces we are especially not free from our "right" not to be inconvenienced by the fact of other people.

"What if old people were bringing children to all the landmarks? Should I have freedom from that?"

Hmmm. You might be onto something there.

I can understand not wanting people dancing all over public spaces, but I think the response should be to escort them out, not arrest them.

Not sure that you deserve to be "free" then. Why even want to visit such a place if you don't care what it stands for? I've been to memorials, where all kinds of things were going on, and it reminded me of what it was all about. That was the beauty of what this country is supposed to stand for. You know what bothered me more the last time I visited our nation's capital? All the homeless people. The power center for the free world, and it cannot find a place for people to take shelter at night. That disappoints me far more than people dancing like this.

> What if young people were dancing at ALL the landmarks you visited in D.C. with your family?

The horror!

> This was NOT free speech they were practicing. It was
> rude behavior that negatively impacted other visitors

You say that as if one somehow excluded the other.

Kokesh is not a self-absorbed kid. He is a war veteran. Go listen to some of his moving speeches.

Playing the Military Veteran card I see... as if his choice of career somehow makes him better than everyone else.

The fact that Kokesh is a military veteran doesn't make him superior to the people calling him a petulant child. However, the people who think challenging the government and the bootlickers to think about what is happening to our freedoms(as Kokesh was doing) is a sign of being a "petulant child" also tend to be people who dogmatically chant "support our troops".

Therefore, I thought these ignorant people would be interested to know that Kokesh is a war veteran. That is all.

Seems like the same justifications used against civil rights marchers as they turned the firehoses on them.

What if young people were dancing at ALL the landmarks you visited in D.C. with your family?

The thought is just too horrible to contemplate. I make sure to shield my family from the knowledge of the existence of dancing young people, the prevention of which is job #1 of any government in accordance with its social compact.

Replace fallible, wealth destroying, power hungry bureaucrat cops with self-organized swarms of vigilantes (i.e. Wisdom of the Crowds) that arise spontaneously as when they are needed (sarcasm).

And yet you see that the flashmobers ignored an order to halt dancing in the memorial. I do not understand what has you all so agitated. Officers gave an order, attempted to make arrests when the order was ignored, and then faced resistance.

There are great problems the nation faces with the growing militarization of police forces and with excessive use of power.

This is not an example of those problems.

When an officer issues such an absurd order, it is even more absurd to obey it.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing. I just can’t imagine the police doing that kind of thing where I’m from. And if they did and it was publicised I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t at a minimal a public inquiry into police conduct.

boris, Ben, and Robert -- you all obviously have NO CLUE why they were protesting. Three years ago, a few people decided to get together and dance on the steps to celebrate Jefferson's birthday. It was midnight, and there was no one around to be bothered by it. One of them got arrested. Her arrest was upheld just recently. Google for 2008 dancing at the Jefferson Memorial or just go here:

The tension between libertarianism and Republicans (usually enforcement pandering) is nicely brought out. What is interesting is how, for so many Libertarians, bad Democratic taxation and healthcare policies are sufficient to swing the balance in favor of the Republicans, in spite of monstrosities such as this one in other spheres. (I'm assuming that a majority of self-identified libertarians vote Republican; maybe I am wrong? )

I really appreciated Rand Paul's filibuster of the renewal of the PATRIOT act. He was at least consistent with his libertarian beliefs, in spite of opposition from the rhetorically libertarian, but politically conservative, Republican leadership.

Oh yes, Democrats are fun loving, freedom defenders of the nation. Until they become President and renew the ugly (one might say necessary) Patriot Act.

I'd say that Libertarians are smart enough to understand that Republicans will at least fight to let you keep your money.

I'm actually not observing that here, unless Bill, etc are Republicans?

The Republicans aren't good with this stuff, but the Democrats are just about as bad. (Not that that is good enough for me to vote Republican, either)

What does this have to do with "Republicans"? The current President under which this occurred, who lives in the capital city where this occurred, is a Democrat. Or do you somehow have knowledge of the political affiliation of the police officers in question?

If this had happened under President Bush it would be taken as a sign of "Bush's America". That is par for the course. But it's a bit rich that it's taken as symptomatic of "Republicans" even when it doesn't occur under a Republican President.

Very good point. Just like Obama's extension of the Patriot Act is not getting nearly as much heat as it did under Bush.

As a self-identified Libertarian, I tend to support the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee precisely because I feel they're (marginally) and broadly better on issues such as these. I tend to support Republicans for most other offices since, in my experience, most candidates support the status quo, which I view as meaning "the police can do no wrong; Freedom means the freedom to live a conservative white-collar suburban lifestyle; Liberty means liberty from alternative lifestyle choices".

Tell me I'm wrong! Show me someone who doesn't support policy that enhances the position of the above demographic AND who doesn't come elected from a small number of left-wing cities.

Cyanide is marginally better for you that enriched plutonium. Do you support the ingestion of cyanide?

I suppose you think I should vote Libertarian in an FPTP country?

The police conducted themselves professionally and ethically.

If you cause a public disturbance at a site such as the Jefferson Memorial, the police can lawfully ask you to stop. If you refuse to stop, then the police can lawfully arrest you.

If you resist arrest - the individual who refused to place his hands behind his back was certainly doing so - then an officer is required to use sufficient force to overcome that resistance and effect the arrest.

The comparison of this to the Jose Guerena incident is simply bizarre.

How low is the bar for what constitutes a disturbance? The individual who refused to put his hands behind his back was resisting arrest. The question then is what is sufficient force. I think actually throwing the man to the stone floor was probably more than sufficient especially considering the nature of the "crime". Additionally there is the central absurdity that a few people goofily dancing around is a disturbance but the application of violence against peaceful civilians is not a disturbance. This was about station based dominance rather than attempting to serve any sort of public need.

That is up to the courts to decide. Cops will call it and if they are wrong, they will be punished. If you want to leave in an organized society you cannot say "you cops are wrong, I am going to yell in your face and not do what you tell me".

Policy brutality is what the Seattle cop did. This is just a bunch of people provoking the policy to get a nice you tube video.

Cops will call it and if they are wrong, they will be punished. I

This is a joke, right?

Cops are rarely, if ever, punished for their mistakes. Only the most heinous are punished.

"Cops will call it and if they are wrong, they will be punished".

What country are you talking about? Not the US.

Oh please. So now the problem is not cops being bad, it is the whole judiciary system that never does its job when the ofenders are cops!

You guys need to step out of this liberal bubble and see that cops mess up like any other professional. However, you also need to understand that this kind of 'proving a point' situation is silly and it won't help curb police abuse in any way.

The difference of course is that if I shot a man and said "his hand moved towards his waistband" I'd be convicted. If a cop did it and said that, he'd get three month's paid leave. Perhaps you should step out of your statist bubble where police action is legitimate by definition.

Are you ignorant?

I think we can all agree that they were in fact a disturbance. So as you said, it is simply a level of thershold. I agree with the police's position that it exceeds that thershold. Throwing the individual is reasonably proportional to his level of resistence, in that low to moderate resistence gets you low to moderate force.

Of course. The officers were enforcing the law, how can that be a disturbance? It may be illegal (I disagree), but not a disturbance in the legal sense.

I can't agree that it was a disturbance. I would not be disturbed by some people dancing. I am not willing to classify all unusual behavior as a disturbance. My point was if the the objective of the police was to not have the public be exposed to potentially disruptive behavior then escalating a peaceful demonstration to a violent altercation would not be a good way of accomplishing that objective. Obviously that was not their goal. Throwing a man to the ground from above waist height to the stone floor is a non trivial amount of violence given that the resistance was not dangerous in the least.

You would not be disturbed by them. Are you claiming that other people would not be disturbed by them? By a bunch of people dancing and conducting their own affairs within a public area that is designated for public entertainment/education specifically?

As for your point that the police are causing more disturbance by arresting them, this is significantly contributed to by their illegal resistence to arrest. Moreover, are you suggesting that the police should take such things into consideration? That if the criminals threaten to make things difficult, the police back down? Keeping in mind that the protesters do want to get arrested for the video shoot.

Yes. That individual resisted arrest in a absolutely non-violent manner. He was very careful not to commit violence at all. Nonetheless, he was actively resisting arrest and the officer conduct a reasonably low level of violence necessary to achieve that arrest. Do note that you may not physically resist arrest.

I thought we all agreed that if we had seen the cops destroyed by bystanders we would have cheered.

Now now. You are talking nonsense whereas what I am saying is actually reasonable. You honestly don't think that protesting causes a disturbance? Isn't protesting pretty much defined as causing a disturbance to raise awareness of your cause?

Government at all levels has but one method of operation: the application of force. We should be *very* concerned as to what scope, circumstance, and ends government is permitted to act.

I saw these videos, and saw a bunch of weirdo young and older people trying to provoke an agitprop situation. They weren't behaving in a normal social manner ore in a normal casual flashmob manner (I've been to a few) but deliberately trying to provoke an adverse reaction, and being filmed by a series of people with serious professional video cameras. This appears to me to be a typical socialist left event, as I see in Australia from time to time, and reminded me of the 60s counter culture similar deliberate provocations by hard left operatives.
I don't know who Alex Tabarrok the poster is. but I question what this post has to do with the motives of this blog.
I came to and come to this blog for the purpose of exploring useful social and economic developments, and not to see clear agitprop from the hard left.

Andy from Australia

"I don’t know who Alex Tabarrok the poster is. but I question what this post has to do with the motives of this blog."

Pro-tip: Alex is the angry one and Tyler is the cooly detached one. (...and Tyrone is just an especially clever troll. ;D)

Previously: Tyler v. Alex: Guide to the Perplexed

If you have ego problems, lots of self-hatred and the desire to carry a big stick and hit people to make yourself feel better, then maybe the Capitol Police has a job for you. These people are undereducated morons that take any form of self-expression as a threat. Last year they were doing similar things to protesters stand outside the National Portrait Gallery offering to show patrons images of pictures on their ipads that had been removed from a show because it offended the Catholic League. These thugs have a long record of this kind of brutality.

I am sorry, but organized activities at national monuments require a permit. People bring their children to these sites to show them the statues, read to them the material on the base, etc.
Now, some kids what to have a party with 40 of their friends dancing at the monument.
What if you don't care to join them.
Your liberty has been limited too.

There are plenty of venues people can apply for park permits. Even probably at the same site after the park is closed.

This is not a liberty issue.
It is an issue of people trying to create an issue without thinking through the consequences of no rule assembly at public monuments.

I'm amused that kids being free from having to see people dancing in unusual places is a common concern. Won't someone think of the children? If you don't want to dance don't dance but defining any abnormal behavior to a disturbance is a silly and bad idea.

Haha, yes the children.

So, Bill, the consequences, eh?

If we don't post enough cops at EVERY monument to oppose these travesties then...I shudder to think.

It's also only tangentially about monuments and federal property. It's about the increasing thuggishness of the cops.

Okay, you danced without a permit. Here's a fine and a summons. Why the brutality?

Simple. They resisted arrest. Do you deny this?

@John Smith
Are all arrests legitimate by definition?

Certainly not.

All physical resistence to arrest are, however, illegitimate and illegal. If you object to it, you do so through due process at a court of law. Not physically resist a law enforcement official. Do note that they physically resisted arrest. They did not simply not cooperate, they actively resisted with physical force. This is illegal.

How can the kids learn anything about freedom if we don't get rid of these silent dancers!? I know if my children saw this type of dancing occuring they would get very scared. The American sympathizers with AlCIAda are probably watching these dance protests very carefully...we cannot let them see this as a strategic weakness of our freedoms.
what if these people have bombs on them?!?
How do we know the real terrorist won't see-our-soft-on-dancing loopholes and decide to dance with bombs attached to them so that they can guarantee their suicide bombs will be effective? We know that AL-CIA-DA is extremely smart and could hit us at any time.
I propose that a new Department of Freedom from Dancing be created, they will be given the special authority to shoot silent dancers in the head without having to deal with all the red tape of traditional less dangerous crimes. When will we approve of this new protective group? before or after the next silent dancing bomber attacks us at our weakest point?

I think Alex's economics class would be the perfect place to do a dance in.
Let's get our friends together, bring some music, and have a good time.
He won't mind.

You don't have to like something to think it's not an arrestable offense.

Even if it is arrestable, were they resisting arrest?

And I don't mean in the "STOP RESISTING!" sense that every cop is trained to squeal when people are clearly not resisting.

Andrew, arrest would never have been necessary if they hadn't been resisting arrest. Srsly.

Okay, some people took that too srsly.

Time flows in weird ways.

"I think Alex’s economics class would be the perfect place to do a dance in."

I totally agree!

Law & Economics Dance Party Flash Mob
Friday, September 2, 4:30-7:30 PM

Innovation Hall room 207
George Mason University (Fairfax Campus)
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030

Bring your iPods and your dancing shoes and get your funky groove on.

Bring a section of fake grass for the dancers to dance on, then yell at those damn kids to get off your lawn.

Bring popcorn.

Trololololol! Love, JMPP.

Invite everyone you know in the DC area to this event.


The problem here is what is being outlawed. Seriously, we outlaw public dancing and kissing? And public wood carving?

and yet are there no limits to our activities in public spaces?

shall I dance in another public space, the middle of the road?

making it illegal to dance in a sacred public space such as the jefferson memorial seems reasonable.

this did not take place on the capital mall.

"making it illegal to dance in a sacred public space such as the jefferson memorial seems reasonable."

What would Jefferson think about this statement?

What's surprising? The only surprising thing is that you're surprised.

That's the personality. That's why they become cops.

The police's use of force here was clearly excessive and uncalled-for, but bizarrely enough, they were actually enforcing a recent ruling specifically outlawing public dancing at the Jefferson Memorial. (In fact, that's the reason the group was dancing here in the first place, to protest that ruling.)

Link here:

Ah shit, about half of my outrage just dissipated.

Just regained a few percentage points.

The ridiculous thing here is that the dancers' possible disruption of other peoples' enjoyment of the monument was surely overwhelmed by the disruption caused by the police acting as they did.

We give the police wide discretion to decide when to enforce minor laws -- they're supposed to triage out incidents that don't actually affect society in a meaningful way. Up here in Canada there's been a great deal of criticism of the Officer Bubbles incident and rightfully so. This new episode is just another example of extremely poor judgement of the part of police officers regardless of the letter of the law.

This exactly. The objective of the police is to serve the interests of the people not to assert the maximum amount of dominance that they think they can maybe get away with. We give the police a lot of latitude because they find themselves in dangerous situations these police used that latitude to make a safe situation dangerous.

The proper response to this is a dance-in on Memorial day with rotating readings from the writings of TJ. The irony of riot cops arresting a few hundred people engaging in political speech in the temple of liberty would be incredible. This is a space that needs to be reclaimed by We The People...

"If you continue to record you will be arrested" @2:43 in the top video.

I want to see anyone defend that.

Do you see anyone defending that?

What you see is people defending the right of law enforcement officials to enforce the law, to arrest people who are resisting arrest.

"There are great problems the nation faces with the growing militarization of police forces and with excessive use of power. This is not an example of those problems."

"The cops did their jobs in a professional manner"

I see people who are fine with hippie punching. (and to tell the truth, before a decade spent reading Radley Balko, I was more or less fine with it myself)

Exactly. As you just admitted yourself, people are fine with the violence being dealt out to those protesters breaking the law (resisting arrest). No one single comment have I noticed that suggests that they are for arresting people who records things.

You are clearly wrong by your own words above.

Yes, but isn't that comment more evidence of how the police overstep their bounds? Did the cop have any authority to forbid recording?

No, it is not. When you are under harsh conditions, one may behave improperly. Since he did not actually arrest him for that, I consider it a minor enough offence that I am not particularly disturbed by it.

More importantly, your extremely biased comments make you rather discredible. If you want to say that such comments indicate a underlying attitude that is troubling, then say that. That is a respectable position. Don't do what you do and then use weasel words to make it sound more respectable.

I'm all for whatever will turn the American right against our current police state, no matter how inane. More like this, please.

There is no doubt that America is turning into more of a police state, as demonstrated by the renewal of the Patriot Act. It's time for push back against the authorities and their stupid rules, whatever the stupid rule may be. At this point in history, the symbolism of dancers arrested at the Jefferson Memorial is more powerful than the symbolism of the Jefferson Memorial.

In my experience, these cops typify the attitudes (or maybe poor training) of the federal park police. My guess is that because our parks are already very safe, the park police don't see or handle much real crime. As a result, they get little practice at handling even tame behavior that is in any way out of the ordinary--such as kissing or dancing in public. Contrast this with my local police--the L.A.P.D. They have no shortage of homicides, burglaries, assaults, or auto thefts to handle, and so quickly gain perspective on what should or shouldn't get them worked up. I can't imagine an L.A. cop behaving like the cops in the video.

You're kidding right? The same LAPD that routinely pulls people over for having no front license plate?

I didn't say the L.A.P.D. is perfect, and I'm not some kind of "pro-cop" right-winger. Still, it's hard to imagine a typical L.A. cop getting bent out of shape because of people kissing or dancing in a public park, even if the kissers and dancers are trying to provoke. The point is that big-city cops generally seem to distinguish better between potential criminals and garden-variety knuckleheads. In fact, in my neighborhood, which lacks neither criminals nor knuckleheads, I've seen them do a very good job at laying off the knuckleheads, although it's hard to say whether they're leaning hard enough on the criminals (most crime-fighting takes place quietly).

My guess is that in a situation like this, they'd yawn and move on--perhaps, yes, to pulling people over without front license plates, on the likely false theory that lacking a front plate indicates criminality

As someone who spends a lot of time in bars I can say that this arrest looks like every arrest at a bar I've ever seen. Someone who is drunk or coked up starts acting obnoxious, is asked to leave, they don't leave, cops are called, the drunk acts indignant, says "I'm not doing anything" but refuses to leave and resists arrest and usually ends up tackled just like in the video. The difference is not the behavior of the cops, but the reason the people are asked to stop their behavior. In the case of bar belligerents, they are usually doing something much more disturbing and/or hostile than dancing.

I agree with zz's correlation. I drive often between Chicago and small town (safe) little Madison, WI. Anecdotally, the chance of getting pulled over for minor traffic infractions (illegal U turns etc.) is exponentially higher when I am driving in Madison.

Low crime + Many Cops = Petty Arrests

The park-ranger theory strikes a chord too. (Some) Park rangers are like class bullys: power-hungry, very little real crime, hardy any supervision. A bad cocktail if you have the right attitude traits.

The focus against the cops behavior here is misplaced. This is how cops arrest people who are resisting and the demonstrators WERE resisting -- as well they should have.

The cops did their jobs in a professional manner. It's the stupid fucking court ruling, which the protestors were protesting, that deserves our ire. It's the stupid fucking Patriot Act and every other stupid fucking police state type law we have in this country. Free speech is eroding, privacy is eroding and the Borg is seizing control. You can't even dance if you want to at a monument meant to symbolize liberty.


Generally agreed. At the same time, a court ruling that _permits_ police action in certain situations doesn't _require_ police action in those situations. I haven't read the ruling, but I don't think it says that citizens shall not dance in front of such memorials and that the police shall stop anyone who tries. That's not how the Court works.

So by police professionalism, I don't mean so much the manner of handcuffing or head-bashing (even if that does matter). Instead, it's the decision to act in the first place that's most bothersome. If 10, 15, 20 or 50 people had shown up with a boom-box and started a dance party, that would be different. Maintaining order in the public space and protecting the right of others to enjoy a public amenity--which their taxes paid for--does at some point require action. At what point? That's a gray area. But in law enforcement, discretion to act in the first place--even (or especially) when the Court gives you latitude--is part of professionalism. And a few guys dancing with earphones or a couple kissing and swaying, even if they are trying to provoke, just doesn't seem to justify police action.


I believe we are on the same side here, but let's be clear: the demonstrators expected to be arrested, the cops here were told to make the arrests before the demonstration ever started. Yeah, if the cops had been really cool they could have quit their jobs, but in general everyone is scapegoating the cops. It is the cocksuckers calling the shots from on high: the courts, congress, and the president who are turning this country into a police state, not the police themselves. It's like blaming the troops for the war. The troops are doing what they were trained to do. It's the cumwads calling the shots who need to be thrown out of power and into jail and raped in the ass. Every member of congress who voted for the Patriot Act should be charged with treason and hung from an oak tree. They gave away our freedom. And all I wanted to do was dance.


Yes, we are on the same basic side here. Terrorism has been an excuse for a power grab. Witness the T.S.A.

I also think, however, that federalism offers at least some protection against abuses. Liberty resides not only in the laws but also in the attitude of the people enforcing them. And the attitudes of city cops and of city police departments seems, in my experience, to be more congenial to liberty than that of state police or federal cops. Although far from perfect, and although they would certainly enforce laws that are inimical to liberty, city cops nevertheless generally seem to take serving the public more seriously, while state and federal police seem more likely to have the attitude that citizens serve them. In my experience, the C.H.P. just seems to have more attitude than the L.A.P.D., and federal park police have been some of the worst police I've ever encountered. So although I agree with you--restraint by the cops only goes so far--it still does matter.

Mine is a fairly old, conventional argument of liberty lovers: Keep enforcement local when you can (even if you do need a Supreme Court to intervene and stop local abuses at times). It's also an argument that applies to all kinds of work--experience matters.

The dancing people in the video were protesting a recent ruling outlawing public spectacles at the JM. They were therefore in violation of both that ruling and their obligation to apply for a permit before protesting. Also, they were deliberately provoking the park police by ignoring their order to stop dancing. The man and woman arrested first seem particularly obnoxious, loudly claiming they hadn't been warned when they obviously were.

I'm not contesting your claims of routine police brutality in the US. But if this is exhibit A, Americans should consider themselves very fortunate indeed.

This is Exhibit A that our government is being ruled by a bunch of fuckfaces. This ain't fucking Albania. If some fags wanna dance at the memorial of a dead man we honor for his commitment to liberty then those fags oughta be allowed to dance. This ain't France, this ain't Germany, this aint' fuckin China, it's the USA. We like our freedoms, however fucking trite they may seem to others.

A longer version of the video, with more relevant context, is here. It starts with the police officer talking to the flashmob, unlike the other videos which begin later, in the middle of the action.

Thank you, Dan. This combined with the court decision upholding the constitutionality of 36 CFR 7.96 (prohibiting demonstrations, gatherings, etc from select memorials in the District) makes it pretty clear the police started off behaving perfectly legally and reasonably.

As to what happened after, reasonable people can disagree. What is clear, though, is that the protesters escalated the situation and provoked a confrontation. Some people who have engaged in civil disobedience in the past have gone limp when placed under arrest -- what happened here is that three men physically resisted arrest and, not surprisingly, met with force from the police and will certainly be charged with resisting arrest. I tend to give the cops the benefit of the doubt here -- they don't know whether one of these kids is going to break free and get violent and they don't know if anyone is armed or not. The reality is that once a cop says, "you are under arrest," that means you stop moving.

On the other hand, I don't see how the cops have any business telling people to stop recording. They can tell people to leave a certain area to provide a perimeter but they should have no authority to tell people what they can or cannot record.

All in all, there is some bad behavior on both sides but probably more on the protesters. They could have engaged in respectful civil disobedience and some of them did but others clearly chose to resist arrest and escalate the situation.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." Accompanied, no doubt, by shouts of "STOP RESISTING!"

Who knew this blog was so full of assholes. Anyone supporting the police action here should probably shoot themselves in the head.

Blame the generals not the infantry. I don't hear anyone in power denouncing this action. But I agree that every member of congress who voted for the Patriot Act should shoot themselves in the head.

Aren't the "generals" here Tyler and Alex?

"Aren’t the “generals” here Tyler and Alex?"

I think he means lawmakers and other politicians when he refers to the generals.

But yes, Tyler and Alex are the generals / benevolent dictators of this blog, and they should be commended for how tolerant they are of dissenting commenters even when they express views and arguments that Tyler and Alex vehemently disagree with themselves. I don't think they delete any comments here except spam and perhaps excessive vulgarity, whereas many other political/economic bloggers carefully cultivate their comments sections until they become echo chambers.

Resisting Arrest is illegal. If you resist the lawful instruction of a police officer, than you get what you deserve.

However, if the instruction of the police officer is illegal, and a reasonably qualified officer should have known such, than the officer (personally), and the government, should be liable for treble damages. It should be illegal for the officer to purchase insurance against this risk.

That'll stop these problems.

The courts have found that unlawful arrest is the same as assault and that victims may resist with deadly force if necessary.

To be clear, resisting arrest is not a crime if the arrest itself is illegal i.e. there is no probable cause or no warrant.

Generally, speaking though, you've only really got a case if the officer doesn't identify himself, the victim has reasonable belief that the arrester is an impersonator, or that the victim would suffer police brutality if taken into custody.

Also, the courts don't tolerate violent resistance unless the police initiate violence first.

Yeah. I know. That's the problem. As the police are empowered to utilize ultimate force, they should be held to the highest standard. Therefore, just like the "fruit of the poison tree" doctrine, they should face extreme punishment even when acting under the full color of law. If it turns out that they issued unlawful instructions in this case, they should be treated punished with 3x the penalty of a citizen who engaged in a similar action. Additionally, all actions that followed from the unlawful order should be "at their own risk".

Did you miss the recent decision in Indiana that held that you could not legally prevent a police officer from breaking into your home illegally?

I understand that the memorial is a sacred place, but I don't want the police arresting people for dancing at the Jefferson Memorial. The next time some smug, self-important asshole sends a tweet to flash mob and dance at the Jefferson Memorial, I would like for another tweet to organize a flash mob at the Jefferson Memorial to spit on anyone dancing.

It is so, so sad for America that this is where these ridiculous people choose to draw their line. We have become a nation of petulant children. I saw a video on liveleak where people in Syria were putting themselves into the line of fire, rising their lives for something very important. Here, we're fighting to dance in the Jefferson Memorial. Frivolous and utterly disgusting. I don't mind seeing assholes suffer the consequences of being an asshole, but I don't want the cops involved.

Phil, you are a sad excuse for a human being.

You see non-violent activity and you want to organize a spitting party? The only petulant child is you.

Phil, why is the exercising of freedom the hallmark of petulant children? Do you perhaps believe that "Freedom" and "Liberty" only mean Freedom from people that annoy me and people like me?

I would contend that my Freedom takes precedence so long as the exercising of my rights does not infringe on your safety, well-being, and ability to exercise your rights in turn. And to be clear, viewing the Jefferson Memorial is everyone's right, and dancing there does not impede on that right. You may be annoyed by it because you're obviously something of a petulant child, but your rights are not infringed upon.

It's crazy to me that no one has even mentioned the 2 most important things to take away from these videos.

1. The officers were just enforcing a recent court ruling that basically said "you're free to dance just outside the monument". Of course this is a half measure, and it's no wonder that there were protestors. Because the freedom that was abridged was the freedom to dance. It's crazy to me that none of the officers went "Footloose" on the whole ordeal, and decided to join in the dancing rather than make an arrest. It really wouldn't have affected the court's ruling. And they would have come across as reasonable people letting a minor infraction slide. It's 2011, and every one of these officers thought these protesting dancers needed to be cuffed? I'll have to defer to the apparent expertise of recent posters who have commented that federal park rangers may be prone to overreaction. I'd like to think local police officers would have more effective arrests to make.

2. Yes, this was an overstep in the abridgment of a basic freedom (unless you're a Southern Baptist), but notice how many cameras were there and immediately ready to record and share this event to anyone who cared to pay attention. 15 years ago, how would we have even known this had happened? Watch the video again, and try to count how many people are recording various angles on this event. It's revolutionary.

I do agree with previous comments: sometimes people given acute power use it to needlessly bully, and yes, dancing is a ludicrous activity to ban. Dance is the literal physical expression of human liberty. I imagine, were Jefferson to see the caucasianly awkward stylings of these protestors, he would have grinned, not scowled. Sadly, the one vocal protestor may have been accurate when he chanted the refrain, "This is the New America!"

Yep, this happens all of the time. Glad you brought it to our attention. Lets see, do police get shot and killed? Yep. But no matter they should all be angels.

Police get shot and killed less often than ordinary citizens in many states, so does that mean residents of Maryland, Louisiana, and other high-crime states should be allowed to shoot anyone they want, the way police usually get away with doing?

No doubt there will be protests in the streets. We should all have the right to dance at national monuments. I love to dance at the Lincoln Memorial every couple weeks.

Heh....not going to lie. I have trouble getting worked up by something like this.

The protesters were cleverly exploiting a grey area in the law. When does movement become "dancing", when does dancing become a "disturbance"? Frankly, given the problems we face in this country, whether dancing/demonstrations should be allowed inside the Jefferson Memorial (as opposed to just outside it) isn't high on the list of my priorities. The US has perhaps the freest speech in the world, and it's freer than at any other time in US history as well.

But it's important to understand that the protesters WANTED all this to happen. In fact, they waited until more press and photographers arrived before they began their demonstration. They wanted to be arrested. And they cleverly resisted arrest in a non-obvious way to provoke the police (in my opinion). Unfortunately, the vast majority of people watching these videos will be clueless as to what's really going on and will simply be outraged (as I was before reading more about the circumstances).

Having the freest speech in the world is like being the prettiest prostitute on an inner-city block, given the competition.

The law was intended only to apply to people like Adam who can't dance and pollute the memorial with lame moves (@ 18 s into the video at bottom).

If the demonstrators want my sympathy, they need to learn to dance like this:

Until then, I say prosecute 'em.

Silent dancing: the new public menace.

The behavior of the police was dictated by the nature of the rule the police were required to follow, not by the bullyish tendencies of the police. The requirement of a permit gives the government the ability to create a safe environment for everybody at a public, government-owned, monument. Requiring a permit is a bright line rule.

Generally, bright line rules are both over- and under-broad. If you want an easy rule to apply, or want to have a rule applied by a group of people who you don't trust with the discretion of making a judgment call, that rule necessarily will include some situations you don't intend the rule to apply to and will exclude some situations you do want the rule to apply to. In this case, the rule requiring a permit applies to flashmobs, even if that isn't the main concern of whoever wrote this rule. But without a rule requiring a permit, you either have to give the police even greater discretion to determine what a disturbance is, or choose to allow any sort of assembly.

If you choose to give the police more discretion over what constitutes a disturbance and what is an assembly, you open the door to abuse of discretion by the police. The police may then selectively arrest or detain people based on the police officer's personal preferences.

If you choose to allow any sort of assembly, that would include the KKK chanting racial epitaphs and anti-semitic slogans all day. We accept that sort of freedom of speech as free from government interference on private property, and even permit it on public property with proper notice. Do you refuse to accept any limitations of free speech on government owned property? If you accept any limitations on free speech on government owned property, then you must ask, what are those limitations and how do we enforce them?

No excuse for this. Disciplinary action should be taken, and I don't mean a reprimand buried in the files.

I'm open to argument on this point. What is the usual, acceptable response by police to people who are resisting arrest in the manner shown in the video? What do they teach in police academy?

I do think telling people to stop filming was illegitimate and also nonsensical. It seems to me a video recording can be an innocent cop's best friend when misconduct charges come up.

Otherwise, the police appeared to conduct themselves in a calm, professional manner in the beginning. They made an attempt to gather everyone together and explain very politely that what they were doing was illegal and would result in their arrest if they continued. Some people ignored the warning and physically resisted arrest which escalated the situation. The police were 100% correct on the law -- 36 CFR 7.96 has been interpreted as banning any kind of gathering of dancers at the Jefferson Memorial and it has been held to be constitutional by the courts. Whether the law is a good one or not, it does exist and police have a duty to enforce it, especially during daytime hours when an unauthorized gathering can create a disruption or scene.

Just wait. Pretty soon it will be a crime to film the police. They have already interpreted the law as such in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland.

The fact of the matter is that public policy continues to move towards less accountability and more freedom of action for police forces, reinforcing a trend towards an autonomous police force whose actions are interpreted as legitimate by definition.

And work within the system? Who will voters believe? A man arrested by the police for civil disobedience, or a united Police Department closing ranks around its members and declaring the use of force to be necessary for public and officer safety? It's like Doctors. You can't win a PR war with an organization that skilled and experienced and held in that level of instinctive, unquestioning esteem by a terrified populace.

The Police don't just do their duty. They use their political power to define their duty. How do you change such a situation through a system unified in its desire to protect the police from facing the consequences of its action?

Perhaps Eugene Debs should not have broken the Espionage Act of 1917 since it was, after all, the law, and therefore legitimate by definition as implied by your post.

Watch the full video. The officer, at the beginning, explains that any dancing or demonstrations conducted will result in an arrest (he explains that this is their warning). Furthermore, he also asks for them to acknowledge the warning and their understanding of the consequences of any demonstrations.

It started when the man in the code pink shirt started to dance with his "girlfriend" and began to kiss her. Once they were asked to stop, they refused. They were cuffed. Hardly any physical force beyond that necessary to lock the cuffs was used.

The alleged excessive force occurs when the individuals begin to dance around the officers. These are protestors well aware of park rules. Force is used when the individual resists arrest (by locking their arms in place). That's why simply dragging Kokesh away would not have worked. The officer wouldn't want to do that, anyways. They want to centralize all persons in restraints. \

Moreover, if you look at one individual, you can see he is attempting to interfere with a police officer who is cuffing the individual.

Resisting a lawful arrest (whether the law is just or unjust) is not apart of civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is committing the act, being placed under arrest, and hoping the silliness of the law provokes moral outrage. Unfortunately, resisting arrest is often seen through an ideological blinder, as opposed to the actual pressures and uncertaintities in an officer's mind as she is attempting to make an arrest.

You can dance/demonstrate outside the memorial, but to demonstrate/dance inside the memorial you need a park permit. The dancing was clearly intended to provoke a response.

Something to keep in mind... RT America, the channel that taped this clip, is Russia Today America and is funded by the Russian government. As much as this video shocks me, I must ask whether this is propaganda and what would be gained by creating an event like the one taped. RT America is shown on one of the Chicago Public Television stations. I was watching it one day and did not know their angle. I think most do not because it presents itself like a regular news channel.

Poisoning the Well logical fallacy.

Attempt to discredit information provided not by challenging the veracity of the information, but by attacking the source of the information. The motivations of RT America are irrelevant.

This is relevant to the discussion at hand. So it would not be considered a fallacy. He is attempting to discredit the source, but if there is a well-grounded basis to believe that the source is either not credible or outright creating data, then that is valid. Now, whether you agree with his view of the credibility is another matter.

There are at least five orthogonal issues that should not be confused:
1. A law apparently prohibiting dancing at a memorial.
2. Police officers deciding to enforce this law.
3. The police deciding to arrest the dancers.
4. Dancers resisting arrest.
5. The amount of force used by the officers.

My take:
1. It is perfectly acceptable that a demonstration requires a permit. Declaring such a flash mob a demonstration, however, is wide of the mark. I don't think prohibiting the smallest disturbances at such a place is necessary either. Not my idea of freedom.
2. Judgment is called for here. Enforcing such a petty law when nobody is affected by the perpetrators in any relevant way is probably not a good idea. The officer's must consider that their actions have the potential to escalate the situation unnecessarily--which is exactly what happened.
3. In other liberal democracies citizens are not being handcuffed and arrested for such very minor offenses. But it is in line with our policy to lock up a far larger proportion of our population than any other country in the world. Not my idea of freedom.
4. Once the officers decided to make the arrests it is indeed pretty stupid to resist.
5. I've seen worse.

Luckily I am from Europe where police have to always follow basic human rights. They also have to go for court for mistreatment and are punished like other citizens for serious offences. They are also not allowed to force you or suggest or make any move which can lead that a citizen make a criminal conduct. Why would police even put handcuffs on them for actually nothing? Police in my country is not even putting them on murderers or rapists when arresting them.

There were no liberties taken away by dancers from people who would want to enjoy monument. Visitors can fill any empty place and enjoy it as without dancers. What will be next - arresting people if some people will be too ugly to be in the same room because you couldn't enjoy it as much as with good looking people?

Harmless fun that escalates to an assault on kids. I am a right wing Canadian on most positions but lets face it in some weird twisted way Osama won: He turned many Americans into paranoids intent on seeing evil everywhere.

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