"Improper Use of a Sidewalk"? WTF, DPD?

Categories: Get Off My Lawn
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Hey, Tea Party people and libertarians. Does it bother you at all that the Dallas police Saturday arrested seven people for "improper use of a sidewalk?" Does it occur to you that if bullshit charges like those can stick even for a minute, it means you can't walk down the street in Dallas unless the cops tell you that you can? (Five were released at 1:30 this morning.)

I'm not talking about the Occupy Dallas protester who got into a tussle with police over a flag. Some people say the YouTube video of the incident in front of Bank of America Plaza Saturday proves the cops provoked a melee. I don't know what it proves.

I know you can't fight with the cops. There is always a gun involved. The cop's gun. Too often when somebody fights with a cop, it occurs to him or her to go for the cop's gun. You can't fight with cops. You have to stop, back up, shut up, give up, get away from it. You can't fight with cops.

But you can damn well walk down the street if you want to. You can cheer and carry signs. How do you think we got free from England? This is still America, right?


After they took down the guy with the sign, the cops grabbed up seven more people and hauled them off to jail on a charge of "improper use of a sidewalk." I looked up sidewalk use in the city codes this morning.

There's all kinds of stuff in there about not tying up horses in ways that block sidewalks, not standing around next to a day-care center after they ask you to vamoose-- laws that are either left over from olden days or make a little bit of sense in modern times. But there's nothing that says the cops can stand there judging how you walk down the street like they're Simon Cowell.

I talked this morning to Peter Lesser, one of the city's best criminal defense lawyers, to ask him how somebody actually winds up behind bars on something like this. I wanted to know if the magistrate at the jail Saturday could have asked the cops to pony up the precise statute on which they wanted these people jailed.

"Absolutely," he said. "Remember, magistrates are judges. They can ask for anything."

I don't think the cops had a good ordinance for these arrests. Or a state law. These are bullshit charges. Yes, there are ordinances governing sidewalks. But they're very specific. I don't believe there's an umbrella law that gives the police absolute authority to pop you if they don't like the way you're walking.

Look, we tend to put cops in a position sometimes. Last week before all this happened, there were expressions of official impatience from City Hall with the Occupy Dallas protests. It's not at all outside the realm of possibility that somebody told those cops to shake things up.

I really hope not, because in that case the crucial remedy here is for the arrested persons to sue the individual cops for false arrest and use the lawsuits as leverage to look for the political agenda behind the arrests.

I asked Lesser if he thinks suing for false arrest is a fool's errand. He said no. He said he has sued cops and won money for clients over bad arrests.

"The police have what we call 'qualified immunity,'" he said. "In order to overcome qualified immunity you have to show that the police action was an action that a regular police officer doing his job wouldn't do, or there has to be malice.

"There are certain things that overcome the qualified immunity issue that a reasonable police officer should know. The other way you can sue the city is if they have inadequate training." Cops have a very hard job. Like I say, they also get caught in the middle when City Hall has a political agenda. So I don't offer this suggestion lightly.

But those seven sidewalk arrests were an abomination and an assault on basic American liberty. Somebody needs to learn not to pull that shit on us anymore. Lawsuits may be right way to teach that lesson.
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Deep_Blue_090
Deep_Blue_090

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Blue_Angel_23
Blue_Angel_23

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lapedro
lapedro

what does the tea party have to do with it you fool

el_commondante
el_commondante

The cops could of dispersed them more quickly if they passed out job applications.They're all a bunch of lazy-ass crackers sporting the official J Crew demonstration wear.

Betsy
Betsy

Clapping..clapping...whistling with two fingers...clapping...good article on the confusion of ideals with reality.  The OCD is inducing, physically, out in the public, the pathologies that have brought America to this crisis.  It is our attitudes.  The status quo makes enemies of all who are needed in the rebuilding.  All who color outside the lines are suspect.  All who resist the entrenched authority are imprisoned.  How can this be in this city, and this state, which claims personal liberty as sacrosanct.  What would Perry say?

Glad to hear that Peter Lesser is still on the job.  

disqusdik
disqusdik

This is what happens when you live in a police state.

mike
mike

in the video, the police look very calm and restrained, while the protesters seem angry and agitated and spoiling for a fight.  Besides, one of them shouted "step on the bicycle, step on the bicycle".  For even suggesting this, he should have been arrested.  signed, commiebiker.

TheWatcer
TheWatcer

Also, arresting someone who is resisting you is never pretty.  It's not police brutality when someone has blatantly broken the law (i.e. stepping off the curb with traffic present, etc), and you have to put cuffs on them.  It never looks pretty but when you break the law, you have to suffer the consequences.  These guys came for a fight/PR event.

TheWatcher
TheWatcher

Hey Jim, if someone started a protest against YOU and your family, and instead of merely standing on a public sidewalk, decided to climb on your personal mailbox/car/garden (private property), would you be ok with that? 

The planters are BOA's property, and not public property.  The gentleman was asked to come down.  You ask.  You tell.  You do.

These guys were rioting.  They sucker punched DPD.  They hadnt been in the news for a week and they went out to stir up publicity.  I was there.

Nailemup
Nailemup

Yes, try the lawsuits. LOL.

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

This is a magnificent discussion triggered by the righteous indignation of a good writer. That said, I must admit that I let Mr. Schutze's final suggestion slip away. You expect me to trust my constitutional rights to a lawyer? Do I look like Dred Scott?

Larry L Johnson, Jr.
Larry L Johnson, Jr.

Actually, while not knowing the specifics of the incident I am very concerned at the limits that have been put on the Occupiers' right to peaceably assemble. The right to protest the actions (or in-actions) of your government is fundamental and my personal opinions on their actual complaints is irrelevant.

Whitman1
Whitman1

We used to have freedom of assembly in this country.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I really wish all those First Amendment 'experts' out there would look up and study the interpretation of the tenets of that amendment.  Just like the Second Amendment doesn't grant the private citizen the right to own fully automatic machine guns, bazookas, rocket launchers or tanks, the first amendment is likewise subject to restrictions.  The Supreme Court establishes a state or local government's ability to restrict Free assembly and free speech to what are considered proper "time, place, and manner".  There are very clear, precise guidelines for the manner in which government may restrict free speech and assembly, and it is also made clear that not ALL speech is protected.Look, I'm a gun-nut, and was, at one time, a pathological supporter of unrestricted freedom to keep and bear arms.  Then I grew up, looked around, read the damn document and some case law on the subject.  I have refined my definition of the Second Amendment, recognizing that since many gun owners are not rational, government has to make some rational judgments about just what type of guns we should be allowed to own.All I'm asking is for the ODers to do the same, read the documentation, learn what constitutes proper time place and manner.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

Not a lawyer, I'm guessing. The guidelines are not at all "clear and precise,"  which is why we keep having these conflicts come up in court. It's almost always a matter of balancing one set of rights against another. Your right to protest against my right to go about my business unobstructed, for example. In general, though, federal courts tend to resolve such conflicts in favor of free speech. 

Perry Moore
Perry Moore

Ahem, now we can pull back into reality from the ledge of irrational indignation, folks. For all intents and purposes, we are currently assembling peaceably. The right to assembly is a protection of our right as a society to exchange ideas in public. We don't have to assemble in the streets and on the sidewalks anymore, unless we are in it for the photo op. We have the Blogosphere. We can all be wild-eyed at once, and nobody gets arrested, yet. Viva la Revolucion!

Randy S
Randy S

I wonder how many of these "they got what they deserve....losers....get a job!" posts could be tied back to various PR companies? If anyone thinks that the banks, Koch's, etc. don't invest HEAVILY in various public relations methods to debunk their critics, they are really living in a fantasy world.

Reveille Dallas
Reveille Dallas

This one is from the heart.....Get a job Losers!Vise Versa on the professional bloggers

Richard Mumolo
Richard Mumolo

Why would you think that Tea Party members would approve of this type of law enforcement behavior? Retard!

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

The charge is obvious: mopery with intent to gawp.

RTR
RTR

I agree, the public needs to sue CIty Hall every fucking time they violate laws or someones rights. They think they can act with absolute impunity, even though lately, they have had enough nukes to question that arrogance. Arrogance kills, and its time for City Hall to learn the hard way. 

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

1st, lets sue the phonies at the Horseshoe.

Outlawvideotv
Outlawvideotv

good article Jim and i appreciate your angle of  "Tea Party people and libertarians" making the "aware" aware! 

Kevin Sunshine Panda Mccumber
Kevin Sunshine Panda Mccumber

Time to Poke the Bear!!!the arrests were BS...and once more video footage comes to light.. I'm sure the charges against Steven  will be dropped or reduced...

 

DBCOOPA
DBCOOPA

According to the protesters released early this morning, police locked each of them in individual cells. They were fed at different times than the rest of the prisoners and only bread and water. When they attempted to sleep, guards were banging on the cell doors to keep them awake. Another protester said a man looked very ill and tried to report it. They guard told them, "Hey, if he dies, he dies." WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON DOWN THERE?

Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

This is the internet.  Pictures or it didn't happen.

Reveille Dallas
Reveille Dallas

These pukes want to act like they are leading a revolution..... then they get treated like they are trying to revolt....Show me one of these turds that does not look like he came from Scarborough Fair...losers.

RTGolden
RTGolden

HAHAHA.....Now THAT is the funniest crap I've heard yet!  They are trying to paint their incarceration for a bit over 24 hours in the hues of Alcatraz.  And now, they get to bring their stories, unsubstantiated, by the way, out to the OD camp so the Nintendo generation can launch itself into a fresh fit of hysterical ravings about police brutality.

1) With the recent 'fine tooth comb' scrutiny Dallas' jails have undergone, you can be certain those jailers followed the regulations to the letter.  Especially with a handful of pampered OD participants, who probably have every liberal bed-wetting lawyer slavering after a piece of the notoriety.

2) Segregation was probably done for their safety.  I'm sure the fierce OD flag wavers and stoic planter standers didn't really want to mix it up with Randy redneck, ghetto George and Donny drug pusher.

3) It is standard procedure, when dealing with political arrestees, to isolate them.  In today's world of instant video availability, it is imperative to keep group arrests apart until stories can be verified and cross checked, both against each other and against available video record.  One must keep in mind, and the ODers obviously don't, that there is another video record available that doesn't immediately hit YouTube.  Downtown is literally slathered in video coverage, from traffic cams, to police cams, to security cams, and you can bet those minutes of footage were reviewed closer than a touchdown toe dance at the back of the end zone in the final seconds of a Super Bowl.

What is going on down there, you ask?  It's called incarceration.  There's no known treatment for it, it can't be cured.  It must be allowed to run its course.  There are preventative measures that can be taken.  Usually those involve NOT BREAKING THE FREAKING LAW.

trudat
trudat

This is just another example of how the justice system in this country is failing the people it's supposed to serve.

Reveille Dallas
Reveille Dallas

It's serving the people that were not trying to go toe to toe with the police.

David Sumners
David Sumners

Typical tactic to try to train them into not wanting to be back there for protesting. Programming...

trudat
trudat

This "typical tactic" is a poor attempt at training.  It seems more like some type of attempt at harassment or something - which by the way is not a part of the job of jailers or police.  Maybe we should petition the county for better training for the jailers.

Travis Rex
Travis Rex

LOL it is jail..not a sleepover..

trudat
trudat

"Jail" as in a place to keep one who is accused of a crime.  Just because a person is accused of a crime does not mean the person should have to face torture.  Many innocent people are arrested and taken to jail.  However, jailers and police often mistreat innocent people.  This is clearly wrong.

Sam
Sam

No, its not programming. I've been in Lew Sterret a couple of times unfortunately and if you're there on a minor offense and will only be spending a few hours there they wont bother giving you your jumpsuit and sandals and putting you with the long tiners.

They'll put you in a cell or the drunk tank and give you a bologna sandwich and some juice to tide you over till you get out.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Oh, cry me a river.

Twice I protested against a sitting president, G W B, and both times, we made a clear and obvious choice to stay out of the street, off private property and continued moving on the sidewalk...single file.  This is not rocket science. It is not hard to do. We even checked with the cops--and watchful Secret Service, to keep them calm. Already had one prez killed here, no need to scare them needlessly, you see.

If you can't play by the rules, don't play the game. If you don't know the rules, read up on it. Yes, they can make it stick. A simple fine and now they have a 'war story" to tell at the bar or at camp OD.

You know what? Have the DPD pull back completely. DO NOT respond, do not show up. Let happen what will happen. Peace, great. But remember, OD, in Texas, you can defend your property --even in daytime, with a gun. Maybe the cops will keep you from making a mistake that could really cost you more than a Class C. Make your choice. Be careful and think past your "V" facemask.

Lloydhansard
Lloydhansard

The state law for walking on a sidewalk is in the transportation code.

Mike
Mike

Improper use of sidewalk means using it as a barrier instead of a pedestrian walkway.  You cannot prevent access to private property by standing on a public sidewalk.  If you want to protest, you walk on the sidewalk, carry your sign and let people move back and forth.  If you do not comply, you get arrested.  Your right to assemble can NEVER block acess.  Black letter law.

trudat
trudat

Who was being blocked from access?  I don't remember any information about someone that wanted to pass but could not pass.  And if anyone was arrested for blocking access to something, then they all were probably guilty because I didn't see any "picket line" type walking.  But the police indicate that only seven out of the hundred or so folk were guilty of this mysterious "improper" use of the sidewalk.   

Guest
Guest

Commissioner Price would like a word with you about your "black" letter laws.

real
real

Once again Jim, where is DPD leadership? This hasn't been handled well and the poor line officers have to deal with this no win situation. Poor leadership impacts all. The officers are doing a good job in spite if their leaders and difficult situation.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

"Improper Use of a Sidewalk" Since when there was a right way of using a sidewalk? WTF? Ya, DPD arrest people for some BS stuff, but where they F- are them when my car breaks in or I get punched in the face?

RTGolden
RTGolden

"...when my car breaks in..."  I'm confused.  Is your car breaking into, say your house?  Is this like those 'sudden acceleration incidents' leveled at Audi's in the 80's and Toyotas last year?   

Albert
Albert

A phone call away.

Jim Schutze
Jim Schutze

Albert, I'm almost back on your side on this one.  Compare Dallas cops with cops in most other cities -- in fact if you compare most city employees with city employees elsewhere -- Dallas comes out way on top. The problem here is seldom the rank and file. BUt in this particular case, the only way to get at the people responsible is through the rank and file. Sad but true.  

Anon
Anon

Yea, but Dallas has higher crime levels than lots of other cities. Regardless of who is at fault, we're doing something wrong. 

Anon
Anon

correction - a phone call and 20+ minutes away

Paul
Paul

I don't think we do, I may have just read your comments from the wrong perspective.

We seem to be fairly close on a number of issues.

Guest
Guest

I'm not sure what we disagree about.

Police can't be everywhere. A lot can happen in eight minutes or less. I think that's what I said.

Paul
Paul

In light of your experiences, please go back and rethink my comment.

The police cannot be everywhere and the criminals know it.

A lot can be accomplished in just a few minutes in terms of a theft.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

Dinosaur Ridge. Geologically, the Morrison Formation.

Guest
Guest

No.

Yes (well, it was my garage, but still... And he got away. By the time we discovered it and called the police, he had already driven around the block. It's just dumb luck that I saw him drive by the front of our house. But by then, it had been less than a minute since we called the police, and even if they'd shown up within two minutes, the guy was long gone).

But let's say they cut that response time down to three minutes. The car thief is still going to be gone by the time the police get there, and the home invader is either going to get what he was after or get chased off by the time even a three-minute response gets there.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Point taken.  I was raised on the west slope, all the front range looks pretty much the same to me.  Out of curiosity, what do they call the very similar looking foothills just west of Denver?  They have that same 'books leaning against each other' appearance as the Flatirons.

Paul
Paul

Ever have anyone trying to break into your house at night and wake you up?

Ever have someone trying to steal your car out of your driveway?

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Ohhh God, all the time DPD and Dallas County Sheriffs are at the McDonalds and the 7-11 chilling and hanging out. Most of the time I had to wait about 20 mins. for a cop to get here, and where I live, I end up getting to Seagoville's 911 system. If your dying, the EMS takes about 3 mins to get there, but the PD Station is in the Grove or who knows where there at. Ya, and then they think my neigborhood still needs to be in District 8 all the way to Red Bird.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

If the cops can see the Flatirons from Denver, they have amazing vision.  The Flatirons loom behind Boulder, not Denver.  I know. I used to climb them.

Guest
Guest

I don't know. Eight minutes sounds pretty good to me. They literally can't be everywhere.

Maybe the city could hire some consultants to write up a study about this issue.

(Also, do we have to take DPD's word on their response times? Or is it like the drive-thru times at the McDonald's where they park anybody who's going to throw off their time and cut them out of the "official statistics")

Paul
Paul

Seconds count when the police are minutes away ...

A lot can happen in 8 minutes...

RTGolden
RTGolden

Denver has much better scenery for the cops to look at on the way to crime scenes, the Flatirons, standing tall in the smog-tinted rays of a glorious sunrise would cause anyone to ease up on the gas and just appreciate nature.

Albert Finney000
Albert Finney000

Statistics available on DPD web site indicate an 8-minute or less response time to priority one calls, and a 13.65 minutes for combined average.

Atlanta averages 11-12 minutes for priority one, Denver, 11 minutes. Kansas City, MO and Oklahoma City, 10 minutes or less.

http://apbweb.com/featured-art...

Albert
Albert

I have no sense of humor where crime and assault is concerned. For that, I have a Carry Permit.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

oh albert, do you have no sense of humor or should I say humour since you are bringing up european things!  geesh, everything doesnt have to be so serious

Albert
Albert

I suggest you travel to any American or European city to see how Dallas compares with similar-sized cities in police response times for vehicle theft or simple assault, or look up the information on the internet.

From what I can find, Dallas does quite well.

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

correction to the correction-If you are not dying, a phone call and 3+ hrs later

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