Last year, students from the University of Massachusetts were celebrating their annual pre-St. Patrick’s Day holiday known as “Blarney Blowout.” As you might expect, when thousands of kids gather to get drunk before spring break and St. Patrick’s Day, they can get pretty rowdy. What most people didn’t expect at the time, was that the police would respond with a cadre of riot cops to disperse the crowd.
A total of 73 people were arrested for disorderly conduct, violating liquor laws, and inciting a riot. However, there was one student among them who didn’t appear to be doing any of those things. His “crime” was merely filming the police arrest one of the revelers. For this, he was knocked down, pepper sprayed, and arrested, which led to his suspension from the university.
What’s most chilling, is the fact that one of police officers attempted to destroy the evidence of the encounter, by stomping on his cell phone. Fortunately, the cell phone was protected by a shock resistant case, and the video managed to survive.
After being held for several hours, the student was eventually released and relieved of all criminal charges, and after the video surfaced the student was exonerated by the school board, on the grounds that:
Defendants knew that it was wrong to stop a civilian from filming police officers in public when the civilian did not interfere with police activity.
Defendants knew that it was wrong to use force against a civilian for filming police officers in public when the civilian did not interfere with police activity.
Defendants knew that it was wrong to arrest a civilian for filming police officers in public when the civilian did not interfere with police activity.
Defendants knew that it was wrong to try to destroy a civilian’s phone merely because it contained video of police officers performing their duties in public.
He is now suing the Amherst police officers who illegally detained him, and the video will most likely be featured prominently in court. It just goes to show you, every encounter with the police should be filmed. It could be the only thing standing between you and serious jail time.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.