Why Was I Arrested?

Posted: December 8, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Why Was I Arrested?   and the video

At about 11:30 PM, on 12/6/11, during finals, I was arrested in the main library on my college campus.  I spent the next 22 hours under full surveillance (including while I was using the toilet), subjected to verbal abuse, being repeatedly uncuffed and cuffed, patted down on my entire body, stripped naked and made to stand and squat in full view of a man named ‘Dog’, all while being deprived for various amounts of time of things like toilet paper and a place to lie down.  I didn’t get my bookbag back for 34 hours on top of that.  Why did this happen?

First, allow me to identify myself – my name is Joe Diaz.  I am 24 years old.  I am Latino.  I am currently in the middle of my 2nd year of studies towards a PhD in Philosophy at Emory University, for which I have a 5-year scholarship.  This identification is offered freely, on my own accord, during a time which I do not feel threatened or unsafe.  I had spent most of December 6th in the library reading and writing, given that the deadlines for 3 15-20 page seminar papers were fast approaching.  I had just presented a 7-page paper that night during an Aesthetics & Hermeneutics seminar that ended at 9 PM.  This matters only because it’s the reason that my bookbag was full of books.  I had returned to Woodruff library (yes, the same Woodruff the park in Atlanta was named after) following my presentation.  I was on the 7th floor working while waiting for the study room that my friends and I had reserved for 12-4 AM.  We definitely had plans to get serious work done.  Around 11:20 PM, I realized that I had left some books for my next paper at my apartment, and my friend, Meghan, said she’d accompany me on (what we thought would be) a quick trip down the road and back.

It was upon leaving the library to exchange the books in my bookbag for other ones, that I saw the police.  It’s not rare to see police on Emory campus, but to see them in the library was pretty unusual.  Being members of the activist community in Atlanta, my friend and I have both attended “Know Your Rights” and street medic trainings.  We have tried to live by King’s challenging words, “Silence is betrayal.”   In situations where people may be hurting, we are more disposed to actively pursue peaceful solutions than to keep quiet and look the other way.

In Atlanta, situations involving the police are tense and tend to escalate (see: here and here).  So, aware of what is involved in doing so, I walked over to the enclosed area within which the cops were standing.  When near, but not inside this entrance area, I saw that 3 large males were standing over an older, diminutive woman, sitting down.  Knowing what some of my female friends have gone through at the hands of male cops, this situation in itself made me uneasy.  It was then I recognized the woman sitting down – it was Alice!

I was happy to see Alice, as I always am.  Alice is an older woman who I am certain that any Emory library rat (by this I mean, any student frequenting Woodruff Library on a regular basis) recognizes.  She’s often walking in and out of the library carrying more books and folders than it seems her stature could possibly support (perhaps her and I are alike in this way).  We’ve talked on different occasions about changes in Atlanta, Emory’s impact on the city, and the historical development of the Black Church in America.  It was this last topic that brought us together.  One occasion, while talking on the steps outside the library, I recommended to her Evelyn Higginbotham’s Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920.  We were accustomed to these kinds of exchanges.  So, when I saw the police looming over this kind woman, I didn’t know what to think – other than that I could aid in some way, be that by informing the police that she is a frequent Woodruff library visitor, or simply bringing a calming smile to Alice while checking to see if she is physically OK.

Upon slowly opening the door to the library entrance area where the situation unfolded, the officers shouted at me.  This is how our interaction began.  This is how tension was incited.  The first thing I told the officers was, “Hi, I’m an Emory student and street medic, I know this woman, is she OK?”  “Identify yourself!”  commanded the largest officer in return.  The next few moments happened very quickly.  I did not get to talk to Alice at all.  I did not walk over to her.  I did not stand between her and the police.  I felt unsafe in the enclosed area, and so remained near the door.  As the police asserted their dominion over this part of the library, which I have spent literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours in over the past year and a half, I was simply taken aback.  I was asked, “Are you an Emory student?”  It is no trivial fact to note that this question was hollered at me aggressively.  Since I opened my interaction with the police by informing them that I am an Emory student, at this point I knew they were not listening to my words.  I knew the officers were in a ‘military mindset.’

By ‘military mindset’, I mean something very specific.  In this situation, the officer never saw me as a student or the surrounding area as a library.  He never asked me something like “How do you know this woman?” or even, “Shouldn’t you be studying during finals time?”  Actual context was irrelevant.  For the cops, the scene was a Battle.  The cop’s comportment demonstrated that I was being viewed as a Potential Enemy and that the library was being deemed a Combat Zone.  In a Combat Zone, one does not discuss, one does not reason – one sees only Danger, fighting against it with one goal in mind: Elimination.  My presence, for some reason, was seen as the Threat to be Liquidated – even before my ID was demanded.  Even so, I reiterated that I was an Emory student.  “Yes, I’m an Emory student,” I clearly, if somewhat nervously, stated.  At this time, feeling threatened in the enclosed area, I began to back out towards the doorway opening into the main lobby from where I had entered.  This is approximately when the video begins.

In the beginning of the video shot by my friend Meghan, one can see what I mean by Combat Zone.  First, a library security guard inveighed against documentation, stating falsely, “M’am, you can’t record that.”  Nice try, but that’s a boldfaced lie.  This in itself should scare us.  We’ve seen recent expulsion and destruction of documentation devices all over America.  The normalization of Absolute Cover for police matters is frightening for obvious reasons.  Fortunately, Meghan asserted her constitutional rights.

At this time in the video, (0:09-0:15), it can be seen that I am standing with my back to the door.  My hands are low and outstretched, my palms open in a purposefully nonthreatening and passive fashion.  The two cops, on the other hand, are faced not towards Alice, but me, in wide, rigid and powerful stances. One office can be seen making a “give me” gesture, while the taller office is seen repeatedly thrusting his finger in the air at me.  At this point I try one more time to contextualize the situation and diffuse the tension by stating that I was in the library that I always study at, I know the woman sitting a few feet from me, and that I’m an Emory student.  This is when things escalate.

At 0:23, the taller officer starts making gestures towards his belt.  Was he reaching for pepper spray?  Visions of UC Davis run through my mind.  Both officers lurch towards me.  Tension rises.  I feel more intimidated and less safe.  These two men were not only much, much larger than me, but irate and armed.  Seeing that Meghan was recording the police incident, I walked out of the door so that it can be clear that not only did I identify myself verbally as an Emory student, but also I showed the officers my Emory student card.

At 0:38, the taller officer says, “M’am, take the camera out of my face.”  Meghan’s ‘camera’ was her iphone, and she was holding it far, far away from the officer’s face.  Why bellow such an absurd command? A reasonable question – but remember, in the military mindset, actual context is irrelevant, and those who are not wearing your uniform or do not cower at your command, are first and foremost Potential Enemies.  The same cop repeats the charge for my ID, and I show it to him, but do not hand it to him.  Having had a run-in with the Emory police in a civil disobedience demonstration last April, I was thinking that strict identification, if they didn’t already know who I was, could lead these cops to adopt an even more belligerent attitude.  Still, I showed them my Emory ID card to prove that I was indeed an Emory student (which may have been obvious from the fact that I was wearing a bookbag in the library during finals).  The officer stated that I was “required to release” my ID card.  Why is this?  Does Emory University have a Identify-Yourself-or-Else policy?  I was leaving the scene and returning to the library which I had come from.  Am I required to show the officer an ID since he continued to engage with me?  Can I not voluntarily disengage from a public police interrogation on my campus?  Does his dominion of inquisition extend to wherever he roams?  Could he have followed me further into the library repeating the demand, not stopping until I complied or was arrested?

Given the cop’s antagonistic tone, I took out my phone to document the situation myself.  As I was doing so, I was multi-tasking, trying to answer questions calmly while keeping myself safe.  At this point, I wasn’t as articulate as I would have liked to have been.  I should have been calmer, but the cop’s vibes were making me pretty nervous.  I began to state again that I was in the library of my university trying to talk to a friend whom I know, and that being compelled to comply with a “Show Me Your Papers” command didn’t seem to speak to the actual context of the situation at hand.  Here is where some will say I was wrong.  Here is where They will assert that in such a situation the police are Infallible and the only proper response is complete obedience.   The cops can’t be expected to exercise calm discretion or allow a situation to naturally diffuse if it is going in that direction.  Absolute acquiescence or deserved self-endangerment –  there is nothing else, some will claim.

Here, at 0:54 in the video, is the first time that I was told that if I did not release my ID I was “going to be placed under arrest for obstruction.”  At this point, I removed myself fully from the emergent zone of absolute police authority within my library by walking out of the entrance area.   I demonstrated clearly that there was no penetration, or ‘obstruction’, of that area of which the cops had taken control.  Or so I thought.  “This guy is serious,” I stated in astonishment at the cop’s hostility, as I left through the door I entered.  “I’m trying to answer him,” I told Meghan, at 1:00 – which  is when one can see the cop pursue me out of his ‘scene’ of investigation and into the main library lobby out of which I had just walked.  What happens next is scary.  I try to describe the situation to my friend Meghan, as I walk away from the scene, and the taller cop places himself directly between Meghan and I, inches in front of me.  As soon as I begin to verbalize to Meghan what had just happened, the officer starts screamingCompare my tone at 1:03 to the officer’s at 1:06.  As soon as the roaring commences, so does the physical force.  The officers bend my arms behind my large bookbag and slap handcuffs around my wrists in a very painful way.  Since my bookbag was so large, my wrists could barley be connected, and my left wrist was yanked, twisted, and cut up.  In jail, my wrist was pretty swollen.  2 days later there are still visible cuts and bruises.  At the time, my left hand went numb.

In the video, at the point of the arrest, one can discern the military mindset.  Be Loud and Forceful.  Erase the Problem.  Detain the Enemy.  Shock and Awe.  The arresting officer was in such a raging haze that something truly frightening happens.  When reaching for his handcuffs, he instinctively grabs his pistol.  Around 1:32, he can be seen pinning me against the desk and grasping his hands around the cold steel about 3-4 times.  Some might dismiss this, saying that it was a muscle twitch, but I would warn against such casual indifference.  When things happen quickly, cops using physical force can be in such a fury that they act through muscle memory.  Hyped-up cops have ‘mistakenly’ grabbed their guns and shot unarmed/detained young men in the past, blaming it on unintentional pistol-grabbing.

After locating his handcuffs, the officer proceeds to bend my arms further behind my bookbag.  At 1:51, I shout in pain as my left wrist was bent by the cop.  He rigidly clamped the left cuff, digging it deep into the knobby area of my wrist known as the pisiform.  As a verbal expression of pain escapes me, the officer exclaims, “Stop resisting!!”  Stop resisting???  It is obvious that in my compromised position I was absolutely unable to offer any resistance if I so wished, which I did not.  The officer, maybe twice my size in the literal sense, was on top of me, his knee into my legs and his hands around my bent arms, with the cuffs quite firmly around my wrists. Yet the officer repeats, “Stop resisting!”

Like so many other cops, this officer seemingly uses this command whenever he wants to apply excessive force during an arrest.   In fact, the phrase “stop resisting” has become a sort of mantra for cops during violent detention (see here, here, here, and here).  Minutes later, this law enforcer sent chills down my spine when, as we walked together to the police vehicle, he repeated “Stop resisting” over and over, coldly, like an unholy hymn.  The words had lost whatever contextual meaning they may have had. “Stop resisting… stop resisting… stop resisting…”  These two words, now risen in their ideality, seem to summarize the cops’ Exalted Mission better than ‘Protect and Serve’ ever did.

What followed this detention was physically, mentally, and spiritually trying.  I sat in the backseat of the police vehicle, watching as the arresting officer Googled the Georgia Code, apparently in order to find a law under which to subsume the arrest ad hoc.  I was then transported to the Emory Police Department office where I remained for some time, maybe 2 hours.  Following this, I was moved to DeKalb County Jail.

Upon entry to DeKalb County, the arresting officer, who also was my transporter, joked with 3 officers as he passed me off in the jail’s initial processing room.  All 4 of them started to ridicule me, telling me things like “You can’t talk back to a cop, boy, you ain’t got ‘nuff weight on ya,” “Damn, how you gon’ give first aid when you need a shower ya’self? ” They chuckled loudly.  As the arresting officer departed I told him that I’d pray for him.  The ridiculing officers then searched my person.  They patted down my whole body, roughly, cupping my inner thighs and my genitals.  I tried my best to take my mind elsewhere.

My experience in DeKalb was lengthy, but I will try to recapitulate it as succinctly as I can.  I was placed in a small holding cell with over 20 others, in which every spot on the bench was taken, so 4 of us, including myself, laid down on the filthy floor.  I had only a t-shirt on my upper half, since I was in the library.  It was cold in the cell.  I was taken out for medical evaluations.  Thinking of Foucault’s concept of bio-power, I took note of the tests done to me, including a forehead scan (to check for temperature?), a blood pressure test, and the injection of something into my arm, which I was told was TB test.  I was moved from the more crowded holding cells into smaller ones.  I was taken out of the cell and made to face the wall, place my palms against it, and spread my legs “as wide as [I] could.”  I was felt up again by an officer’s searching hands – all the way up.  For strength, I thought of my Savior, who faced much tougher trials…again, I tried to separate my mind from my body.

After several hours of being alternatively being searched and scanned and made to wait in cold cells with metal benches and dirty tile floors, I was given an opportunity to make one free phone call… at 8:22 AM, the next morning.  It cut out after 3 minutes.   I was then cuffed together with 11 other inmates and marched to a larger room, a kind of grand cell with smaller 2-person cells inside of it.  The 12 of us were ‘greeted’ by a large officer who told us they call him “Dog.”  Maybe he’s called that because he’s got quite a bark. I don’t know, but he talked loud and talked often.  He made comments on everyone’s arrests as he read our papers.  For some reason, he took to calling me “copbeater.”  At this time, my fellow inmates and I were split into 3s and marched into the back end of the room.  Dog, in a disturbingly gleeful tone, told us to “strip-down butt-naked,” practically singing to us that “This is what we do in Dee-Kallb!!”  And so there I stood, in jail, naked, in between two other naked male strangers, with a 3rd male, a Law Enforcer named ‘Dog’, eyeing me over.  Just hours before I was presenting on Gadamer’s Truth and Method.  Now, I was made to put my arms by my side and stand up straight so that Dog could get a good look at me.  Dog took the liberty to comment on my body.  Us 3 inmates, while still naked, were then told to face the wall and squat.

Sometime later, with my clothes back on, the other inmates and myself were marched to an even larger chamber.  This was where I’d spend most of the rest of my time in DeKalb County.  The cell had concrete walls painted all white, with high ceilings.  There were 4 or 5 metal tables with connected seats.  Most of the inmates sat in one of the ~ 10 plastic chairs connected together in a loose-U shape positioned around a blaring television.  I was exhausted, losing track of time, and struggling mentally.  I was shivering.  Although I sprawled out on the floor in the holding cells, I didn’t get any sleep.  It must have been around 10 AM by this time.  I asked an officer to open the cells within this chamber so that I could lie down.  Nope.  I set down on the floor, which was not much cleaner than those in the holding cells, with my arms inside my shirt, trying to fade out of consciousness.  Some “Good Day” type morning show was blaring on the television as I lied on the hard floor somewhere in consciousness limbo.  When I couldn’t sleep from the discomfort and cold, I just stared at the high, white ceilings.  The room was so bright, too bright for my sleepy eyes.  My thoughts however were turning dark as I rolled around trying to balance the toll taken by each shoulder and my back.

I never really made it to sleep before we were rounded up again, cuffed, and taken to ‘court.’  ‘Court’ was held in a concrete area about the size of my living room.  We were told that we shouldn’t have anything to say, that we were just being informed of our bail/bond conditions.  Occupy Atlanta, which I have been involved with, had provided me with a lawyer who attended.  I was so grateful.  The judge granted me a signature bond, meaning the $500 initial bond was reduced to nothing, just a signature.  It was around noon at this time.  Great, I thought, maybe I’ll be out in a couple hours.  I was wrong.

After court I was cuffed again and marched back to the large white-walled cell.  The TV blared on.  I talked to some of the other inmates and exchanged stories of our mistreatment at the hands of the cops.  Many of the stories were similar.  One man told me how officers shouted at him to stop resisting as he was seizing.  We compared bruises and cuts.  We talked about organizing on the outside.  1 PM passed, 2…3… Day-time television rang out loudly.  Television does not agree with me – I never watch it; I don’t have one in my apartment –  so I asked a guard if I could either be taken to the library I saw near the ‘courtroom’ or at least given a Bible to read.  Nope.  In the holding cells, for the first 6 hours of my time, there was no toilet paper, so I couldn’t use the bathroom.  There was TP in this chamber, but there was a camera placed high behind the toilet.  I shuddered at the thought of the guard (who I knew was watching the video for that camera, since she’d buzz in and yell at inmates if they crossed a red line of tape put in the front of the chamber) watching me as I defecated.  But I had to go – I had no other choice.  They watch everything.

As the hours passed, I remembered that I was supposed to hand in a 15-page paper at 2 PM, 12/7.  It was the paper for which I was leaving to grab books when I was detained.  On Tuesday night, I was excited to write on the movement from Perception to Understanding contained within Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit.  Now, I remember being in jail, around hour 16, rolling on the ground and laughing with slight deliriousness at this fact.

The hours dragged on.  I stretched, meditated, went through recent conversations with friends in my mind, basically just doing whatever I could to keep my thoughts off of the droning of the only sounds in the chamber: the buzzing of some temperature system and the dreaded TV – Maury, 4 PM local news, 5 PM local news, 6 PM local news.  It wasn’t until almost 10 PM that I was released.  I was so happy to see Meghan, and our two other closest friends, Kayla and Ezgi waiting there for me.  Almost a full 24-hours passed since the police arrested me in the library.  Having not eaten at all in prison (they offered some meaty foods, but I didn’t eat them – I did this on my own accord), all I could think about was food and getting my bookbag back.  My friends brought me the former.  We went straight to Emory PD to get the latter – but ‘property’ is ‘managed’ during ‘normal business hours.’  I couldn’t get my bookbag until the next morning.  So, during finals week, not only did my University arrest me in its library, but they also kept my books from me for a full 34 hours.

How should we judge this situation?  The proposition “Joe Diaz was arrested in the library and charged with obstruction of a police investigation” is true.  But what is our value judgment on it? Ought we ask – what was being ‘obstructed’ and how?  Was excessive force used?  Is it right that Joe was jailed and treated as less than human?  Is it right that anyone is?  Was this an instance of Justice?  Answering these questions involves looking at more than the 3 minute video.  The question, “Should he have been arrested?” in this context translates to, “Should he have been forcefully detained, effectively deprived of sleep, separated from his belongings for an extended period of time, felt up and down, stripped nakedm ridiculed, and given a court date for a hearing in March?”  The ‘arrest’ was all of these things, it wasn’t merely the act of the cop censuring me for whatever reason.  If your answer is yes, this ‘arrest’ was deserved, I’m genuinely interested in hearing your justification.

There has been some commentary concerning what took place.  How do I feel?  I’m exasperated, incensed, tired and melancholy.  But it’s not only about what happened to me.  The police use combative force recklessly and with impunity all the time.  The prisons have been proliferating rapidly and getting worse in quality for years.  As far as the University goes, not so long ago, it was considered an autonomous space for learning and growing.  Police had little presence on campuses, if any.  They were seen as interferers of the state in a setting that was supposed to look more like the Lyceum, not the Bastille.  Decades ago, having a student arrested in the library during finals would have been an outrage for the whole campus community.  But in 2011, it seems that authoritarianism has become so normalized and sleepwalking so normative, that some Emory students and professors may barely bat an eye at what happened.  Some might even support it.  Emory seems to be more interested in teaching their ‘future leaders’ market manipulation than Socratic questioning.  Don’t even get me started on the doubletalk that are Emory’s slogans: ‘Ethical Engagement’ and ‘Courageous Inquiry.’  The joke has lost its humor.

Even so, maybe people will merely ‘keep calm and carry on’ as the old British slogan enjoying a renewed popularity states.  I’m reminded of a quote from James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son: “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”  Maybe those monsters lurk about us.  Or, perhaps this episode will effectively freak out students, professors, and others paying attention.  Maybe they’ll see it as an unacceptable offense in the name of Authority and Order – History’s perennial towering Agents of Oppression.  Whatever will come of this, it is clear that we who love freedom and yearn for democracy’s actualization certainly have our work cut out.

  1. Alexander Gonzalez says:

    This is absolutely horrible. I cant believe you had to go through all of that for simply checking on your friend. This makes me incredibly upset and it angers me that this cop can get away with this. Where’s the justice? The comments made by the cops once you got to the initial processing room and “copbeater”? Those cops were much larger than you and there was no “cop beating”. I wonder what made him call you that? Cops need better training and more self control and more god damn respect. Let me know if there’s anything we can help with. Best of luck pal.

  2. […] A friend of mine, a second year PhD student in philosophy at Emory University was arrested in the university library when he saw a woman that he knew with 3 large male police officers standing over her. When he stopped to see if everything was okay, they became aggressive and arrested him forcefully, yelling, ‘stop resisting’ to justify their use of unnecessary force, despite his protestations. In DeKalb County Jail, he was made to stay in a room with other inmates which was too crowded to even lie down, stripped and verbally and physically humiliated by a police officer named ‘Dog’, and other things. He did not receive his books back for 34 hours during finals. Above is the video of the arrest and here is his very well written and thoughtful response https://dirtseyeview.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/libraryarrest/ […]

  3. Hi,

    As much as every detail of your story deserve attention, one stroke me : “and the injection of something into my arm, which I was told was TB test.”

    You don’t seem too upset about it; does it mean they explained you thoroughly and showed you evidence about what they were about to inject inside your body? Do you remember how you felt about that, did you trust their explanation, did they actually ask for your consent?

    I don’t have in mind some conspiracy stuff here (like injecting a substance they’d like to test…), I’m only thinking about body integrity, how some people refuse blood transfusion or vaccination, how every such intervention makes the risk of some contamination bigger (as it’s happening in hospitals too), when obviously you could have outlived in those hours without anything being taken from/added to your blood stream…

    I hope you get heard in your community and that those policemen are held accountable. Any news from your friend Alice?

    Take care,

    • Christian Gonzalez says:

      Taking my justification to the extreme, that is, indeed, the case, provided the person speaking to the officer refuses to comply with the reasonable instructions that would, eventually, lead to the interruption being resolved as an arrest for obstruction or as not a distraction or hindrance. As far as why the defendant was arrested, I do not believe we’re on the same page here; from where I’m sitting, it seems that the defendant was given ample time to comply with the reasonable instructions handed down by the officers he was purposefully distracting, and he wasn’t arrested for walking out, but arrested for not complying, of which walking out while receiving reasonable instructions was the last straw. The officers gave him a chance, and once he refused that chance, they arrested him. He could have been arrested for obstruction upon the first time he denied them his identification if they so pleased, but they were (and I use this term extremely lightly) generous enough to give him a chance to lead the situation to a rather peaceful and more productive end.

      And I don’t know why you’re choosing to elaborate on the recording point; I thought we dropped that once I was informed that privately owned and operated libraries are, apparently, not private.

  4. Roger Douthall says:

    Hi, my name’s Roger Douthall. I’m a philosophy undergrad and I would be more than happy to provide complete justification for this incident if you’ve got the time.

    • Christian Gonzalez says:

      Actually, Roger, let me just go ahead and save you the time. I’m Christian Gonzalez, and I’m a Law student. Before I start, let me make it clear that the fact that the officers were questioning this Alice, for whatever reason, is not in dispute, and is thus perfectly reasonable behavior for the police to have.

      So, here we go:

      First, walking into an ongoing interrogation and not complying with police is obstruction. Honestly, anything that takes time away from the officer’s lawful duties (such as interrogating people; we don’t know why the cops were questioning her, but that’s not the issue here) is obstruction (Georgia Code 16-10-24a).

      Second, “Failure to comply with the direction of University officials or law enforcement officials acting in performance of their duties; failing to identify oneself to these officials when requested to do so.” is written into Emory’s code of conduct (8.1.1b), which all students agree to (otherwise the student wouldn’t be able to attend). Yes, you identified yourself, but you failed to comply with the direction of law enforcement officials acting in performance of their duties when you didn’t hand over your ID.

      Third, recording in Georgia is simple. If you’re in a public place and actively participating in a conversation, you can record it. However, if it’s in a private place, such as a private university library, you have to have the permission of all involved, otherwise it’s eavesdropping (audio) or surveillance (video), as it was intended to be recorded (Georgia Code 16-11-62a). Also, because Meghan was not complying with the direction of law enforcement officials acting in performance of their duties, she was in the wrong, as she’s a student who accepted the Code of Conduct just like you are, Joe.

      If you were actually informed, you would have known to comply with the law enforcement official immediately upon entering the room (whether entering the room was right or wrong doesn’t matter, as your compassion to your friend is admirable, but your decision to not restrain yourself from checking on her until after the cops had left was not), due to both the first point as well as the second point, since you agreed to Emory’s Student Code of Conduct. If the cops wanted to, they could have easily arrested Meghan, because she was breaking the surveillance law.

      Is the ordeal that you put yourself into terrible? Yes. But that’s exactly what happened: you put yourself into it. It sucks, but had you waited for them to leave to speak to Alice, had you simply handed over your ID, had you not attempted to record it yourself, and had you not walked out of the room when an officer was questioning you, none of this would have happened.

      As good as your writing ability is, please actually be informed the next time you assert the idea that you know what you’re doing. Leroy Jenkinsing situations doesn’t often end well.

      • Bruno Verbeek says:

        To Christian Gonzales: Surely, the fact (if that is what it is) that the police had the right to subject Joe Diaz to this treatment, does not make it alright? The various codes you cite give the police the powers to ask for ID, to request not being filmed, and to order you to stay out of a situation and arrest anyone who does not comply with the law. But it does not say that they have to. A professional police officer has these powers at his or her disposal for use, should the situation ask for this. Do you think the situation in this case asked for this escalation of violence and aggression?
        It seems to me that this incident shows that the police officers in question could use a little reminder about the tactics and standards of policing.

      • Christian Gonzalez says:

        Bruno, for some reason it will not allow me to reply directly to your comment. However, the question posed was “Why was I arrested?”, not “Should I have been arrested?”.

        Personally, do I think it was a little much? Yes; it obviously could have been handled better by both parties (especially Joe), and the officers could have at least taken off the backpack once they realized it was a hindrance to cuffing him. Doesn’t mean the officers were in the wrong, though. Everything they did was justifiable.

        However, you can look at it from their point of view as well. Some kid comes waltzing in to your interrogation, refuses to comply, tries to illegally record it via two different methods, and then tries to leave mid-conversation? To them, Joe was just LOOKING to get arrested, especially since Meghan already had the camera primed. They gave him what he wanted.

        Should they have? No. It was some compassionate kid who didn’t know enough to be smart about this situation but thought he knew enough to be stupid about it. But if the mood striked them either way (to let him go or arrest him), they were perfectly justified in doing whichever they wanted.

      • Pete says:

        Hi Christian,

        I think you make some good points about Joe’s conduct, and while the response by the officers on the tape may have been a bit excessive, I agree that the wide discretion police are given in the execution of their duties probably precludes any legal finding of wrongdoing on their part.

        I’m not so sure about your comments regarding Meghan, though. I think it’s pretty unlikely that the State would have any viable charges against her. 16-11-62 does say that it’s illegal to videotape another in a “private place and out of the public view” without consent of the videotaped parties, but I’m not sure the library would qualify as such a place under the statute. I think the fact that community members (like the woman on the tape) can wander in to the library may have some bearing on whether it’s out of the public view. And if the library would qualify as such a place, the common law in many jurisdictions requires that the videotaped subject have a reasonable expectation of privacy before a defendant can be charged with this kind of crime (although I readily admit that Georgia’s common law isn’t my forte, so if you know this isn’t the case, please correct me).

        Furthermore, courts have been pretty skeptical of government actions criminalizing the videotaping of police officers. The First Circuit just handed down a decision this past summer saying that officers were not entitled to qualified immunity for arresting a citizen because the citizen was videotaping them. Gilk v. Cunniffe 655 F.3d 78. The Eleventh Circuit may certainly take a different view, but as a general rule I’d say the newsgathering function videotaping plays probably grants it a fair bit of legal protection.

        As for the Code of Conduct, does it actually say you can’t videotape in the library? If it doesn’t, I’m not sure a library employee would have the authority to stop Meghan absent some other justification (causing a disruption, maybe? Although it’d be hard to see given what’s going on around her to maintain that she’s a distraction). I think telling a student not to videotape something is probably outside the scope of a library employee’s duties, so I’m not sure Emory could sanction her under 8.1.1b (although Emory’s disciplinary system isn’t quite a court of law, so in all fairness it’s certainly possible they would).

        As for the police officer’s command, since what he said was “get that camera out of my face,” Meghan could plausibly claim that she complied, and absence of further protests by the officer would probably lend some weight to that claim. I don’t think the videotaping itself could really constitute impeding a police officer acting in performance of his duties. All that really does is provide an incentive to keep his actions lawful and according to police procedure.

        Anyway, this is probably more focus on this issue than is probably necessary (it’s a bit tangential to the larger altercation), but I thought it was interesting so I decided to weigh in. I’d be eager to hear your thoughts if you get the chance, although if you guys are in exams like we are I’d certainly understand if you didn’t have the time.


      • Christian Gonzalez says:

        Pete, the reason I said that bit about Meghan was because it’s my understanding that the Emory library is a private library for students. I read that elsewhere in the comments, so I my be incorrect. The Code of Conduct part about Meghan was 8.1.1b, which is the bit about complying with the directions of law enforcement. After re-watching the video, someone says to Meghan directly that she “can’t record this,” so this could be considered a direct command to stop recording. However, upon this latest viewing, it doesn’t seem that it was an officer who told her, as I originally thought, since the voice seemed to be coming from outside the room, so I guess 8.1.1b doesn’t apply to her, but the surveillance law still does. The only way 8.1.1b would have applied is if she failed to get her camera out of the officer’s face, and since it was quite a way from his face in the first place, she was in the clear.

        As far as I know, Georgia’s very lenient where recording the police are involved. I haven’t heard of any cases where making the police accountable was frowned upon and punished heavily (like the Anthony Graber incident in Maryland), but she still could have been arrested if the Emroy library truly is a private facility. Although the positioning (near the entrance of the building) could make the incident viewable by the public passing on the street, again a detail that only matters if the library is private.

      • Jason says:

        Sorry Mr. Gonzalez, but as a lawyer, and former criminal defense attorney, I’m going to have to trump the law student. First, good luck finding a judge that believes asking the police a question constitutes obstuction. “[A]nything that takes time away from the officer’s lawful duties … is obstruction”? Sorry, but no. Thankfully we don’t live in such a world.

        Second, violation of a university’s conduct code is not a crime.

        Third, in the Constitional sense, a university library and the areas around it, even a private university, are considered public places. (Haven’t you gotten to the 1st Amendment mall cases yet?) Even if Georgia considers this a private place, the law wouldn’t pass Constitutional muster if challenged.

        Mr. Gonzalez, I was once like you–ready to defend everything the police do in the name of justice. But at some point I realized that justice means something more than just blindly justifying everything somebody does. Before you finish law school you need to decide whether you want to be a lawyer that helps people, or a lawyer that justifies throwing a student in jail for 22 hours for asking about his friend.

      • Stewart says:

        The reason these situations do not often end well speaks to the abuse of power, not to the actions of the citizen. These officers were drunk with power and abused the authority they have. This kind of action is reprehensible.

      • Christian Gonzalez says:

        Jason, I appreciate your input, but from what I can see, interrupting an interrogation, not complying with reasonable instructions, and then leaving while an officer is giving you more instructions is distracting and thus hindering the officer from doing his lawful duty.

        As for your second point, no, it’s not a crime. I was merely informing Joe that he was in the wrong as far as refusing to hand over his ID, as a response to a point he makes earlier in this blog. And your third point, I didn’t know that they were considered public, even though they are privately owned and operated facilities, like I believed the Emory library was, so thanks for clearing that up.

        I also believe you have my intentions wrong. I’m not saying that it’s right that he was arrested; far from it, in fact. I was just answering his question as to “why”. Should he have been arrested? I don’t think so. Especially not in that fashion, as it seemed a bit much. But he also should have waited to check on his friend, or complied with the very simple request of handing over his ID, a request he was required to fulfill in the first place. It could have been handled better by by both parties, but it led to this, and I was informing him as to why it did.

      • Jason says:

        Fair enough, Mr. Gonzalez. I recognize that an important aspect of any legal career is the ability to argue either side of an issue. Here are some additional observations:

        Taking your justifications to the extreme, anybody who talks to the police while they are doing anything hinders them and is obstruction. Of course we don’t know from the video or the description if the police were actually hindered or what they were even trying to do. But what’s strange is that the defendant clearly was not arrested for his alleged obstruction. He was arrested because he walked away from the police after showing the ID but not handing it over. Again, that’s not a crime. Even assuming he’s required to identify himself, he did so. If I represented this defendant I would point out that even the officer(s) didn’t think they had probable cause to arrest him for talking to them, or they would have done it before he walked away.

        Also, the defendant obviously has no control over a third party who is recording what’s happening. As for the woman recording, she has the same rights as a member of the press–more so if she was a student with a right to be on campus. It should be patently obvious how important such a right is in situations like this. If the police are acting lawfully, they should have no problem with cameras. It’s kind of like reverse Orwellianism–everybody with a cameraphone can now watch Big Brother.

      • Emily says:

        Christian, as a law student you should understand the separation between being able to interpret the law and identifying an unethical and inhumane situation. And while it is arguable that it was within the law to arrest Mr. Diaz, I believe the central point is should it be? This entire situation is a blatant abuse of power on the part of the police and it is sickening.

  5. Brian says:

    I’m sorry you had to go through that experience, but most of that situation was your fault. Having studied criminal justice fairly extensively it is obvious that you created that hostile situation and are woefully ignorant about laws. You say you know your rights, but that doesn’t mean you know the laws. Even more so, you attend a private university with its own set of rules by which you must abide (and apparently didn’t) that may also result in criminal prosecution. From what I read and saw in the video the officer was acting according to his training. I certainly agree that some of what they did was unnecessary, but so were your actions. It’s easy to blame and hate officers because of the job they do. Theirs is one that often goes unappreciated. Certainly there are flaws in our justice system, but you became part of it when you interfered with their duties. Sucks what you went through, but learn to pick your battles.

    Also, I may be wrong about this but I don’t think your right to film them necessarily applies when you are on private property. The law gets very tricky when it comes to private institutions such as Emory.

    • Matt says:

      You have literally no idea what you are talking about. You cite no actual laws (state, local, or otherwise), you have no knowledge of Emory’s rules, yet you claim some sort of authority on the matter. Surely this is a sign of a true moron.

      • Zac says:

        At my university, as with Emory, you are required to show a police officer your ID while on campus, and release it to them. Not only did he not do that, he then walked away and tried to make fools out of the cops when they followed him. That was unnecessary. If he had showed the ID, this would not have taken such a nasty turn. (If it had, maybe you could be upset, but we’ll never know now will we?)

    • sg says:

      You studied “criminal justice” and are using your pretend legal expertise to justify this unlawful arrest?

      You obviously do not know what you’re talking about. A university can enforce its private rules through disciplinary administrative action, but they have no criminal force – any university rule violation is at most a civil matter not something you can be *lawfully* arrested for. Georgia’s stop and identify law (under loitering, georgia code 16 s 16-11-36) does not require a citizen to even produce an ID when asked let alone surrender it. In order to be lawfully charged with obstruction of justice in Georgia, one must obstruct or hinder a law enforcement officer in the lawful discharge of his official duties. It is made clear in the video first that, when threatened with arrest, Joe is attempting to remove himself from the scene of the police interaction with the older woman, he is therefore clearly not obstructing or hindering the officers there – and demanding an ID is, in Georgia, not a lawful official duty – if, absent statute requiring people to take certain affirmative actions like identifying themselves, police could simply demand that they take those actions, and then charge them with obstruction for failing to do so, then police would have absolutely unlimited power and the 4th and 5th amendments would be null.

      Moreover, you’re just assuming that the cops were telling the truth when they claimed that Emory requires students to surrender their ID. Being curious, I looked up Emory’s student disciplinary code and it merely requires that one “identify oneself to these officials when requested to do so” not that they produce physical ID and surrender it.

  6. Cai says:

    I saw the video which pissed me off but now after reading your account and connecting with your psyche at the time all of this was going down my anger is turning into disgust. Those cops need more than a prayer, they need an education.

  7. Cai says:

    Hopefully your professors have hearts and will give you extra time to study or turn in assignments you weren’t able to on account of being locked up.

  8. Jared Chester says:

    Joe, this is terrible and frankly unjust. I wonder if you would consider finding a pro-bono lawyer and suing the police department. Your rights were violated. While being litigious is often frowned upon, sometimes it is necessary to protect the rights of all. The police won’t stop their unjust activities if people merely protest them. But if the department has to pay out because of the unlawful treatment you received, it may help to change policy. At the very least, it will bring the issue into sharper focus of the emory community so this can be stopped.

    Title 28 of the united states code, section 1983 allows for civil suits against government institutions when they infringe on a person’s constitutional rights, which you can argue happened here. Additionally, I think you have some really strong evidence (the video and this posting which were written soon after the incident describing your treatment).

    Either way, I’m really sorry you had to go through this, especially during finals time. Good luck.

  9. Sara says:

    Just out of curiosity, why did you turn away from agnosticism/atheism?

  10. 99% of emory students says:

    The arrest was completely your fault. You have no one to blame but yourself. You sound like an entitled douche-bag in both the video and this post. I am happy that the cop arrested you. You also didn’t mention that the women in the library was intoxicated and had been wandering emory campus for a few days. hope you didn’t drop the soap.
    emory students

    • Matt says:

      Ahh, a true fascist mentality at work here. Cops can do no wrong as they are the arm of the infallible state. Can we start a movement where we actively discriminate against people who believe like this because their views have shown historically to lead to things like genocide.

    • Kitty says:

      So is Emory letting just anyone in now? Because if this person in fact represents “99% of [E]mory students,” then Emory’s admissions standards must not be as high as I thought…

    • sg says:

      Fascism is right. Blind obedience to authority – loving the boots that stamp on your face. Disgusting and pathetic.

  11. Trevor says:

    I do want to comment that your EmoryCard is Emory property, and it even says so on the back. If an Emory police officer asks for it, you must give it up.

    And, I don’t necessarily believe the force exert upon you was too much force. From what I could see in the video, you approached the officers antagonistically, so they responded. Approaching police officers when they are involved with another person is largely a bad idea. You may say that you were helping a friend, how do they know this? They don’t know your personal life.

    However, I will comment on the militarized law enforcement. I think you are attacking the wrong thing when you fight the militarized police. I think the police state that is in America arises from the societal values that many Americans treasure. Americans treasure their weapons, and it effectively militarizes the citizenry. Unfortunately, this leads to law enforcement that has to act militaristically. It logically follows. Citizens can easily carry more fire power than your normal police officer. Police officer don’t normally carry around AK-47s (while they can be seen by actual military personnel in Airports and such, I don’t call that a normal area). In a state such as Georgia, where many of the citizens are armed, police officers are trained to assume they are armed for their own safety. Although it may seem ‘obvious’ to you that you were not armed, the police do not know this. They just see a person entering a situation that they were not originally in, which is a cause for alarm.

  12. Chris Panagiotu says:

    #1. It looked like you were just trying to make a scene, so maybe take an acting class before trying to make some kind of activist/ “martyr” statement
    #2. I heard you’ve been arrested previously for “occupy Emory/Atlanta” (as you were a TA then asked to step down). Is this true?
    #3. Please stop being an idiot, it makes our school look bad…

  13. Ezgi says:

    “And, I don’t necessarily believe the force exert upon you was too much force”. What is scary about this comment is how you normalize the violence. Should we be thankful for the cops didn’t kill Joe. Because of the damn attitudes like yours, the cops can kill the people regardless of their being guilty or innocent. Watch out what you are saying and think about it!!!

  14. John says:

    Dear Brian, and you fake person who calls yourself “99% of Emory Students:”

    You people have no right to live. You’re cold hearted assholes who should be living in hell walking on hot coals in a fiery pit with bare feet. I will never go to the South because of people like you. You have no compassion for a clearly kind, concerned person in Joe. You’re just fucking bureaucrats who are no different from robots or automotons. You’re inhuman. I hope you go to Africa and hunting dogs rip your bowels out.

  15. Roger Douthall says:

    And why are you complaining about this “War Zone” mentality? As it seems to me, the cops had more than enough reason to be nervous and to handle their guns. Not only did you state that you left the entrance way as they were interrogating you, you also state that you fumble in your pocket and pull out your iphone. As the poster above me says, “police officers are trained to assume they [the suspects] are armed for their own safety.” If I was a cop interrogating some kid and he starts backing up and fumbling in his pocket, I’d draw my gun faster than they put you in that arm hold. Especially nowadays with all this anger at the police for breaking up the Occupy disturbances.
    On a random tangent, I find it funny that you claim your rights were violated, (these same rights given to you by the state) and fail to cooperate with the agents of this state (the cops), forcing their hand. And btw, it’s a private university. If the cops demand to see your ID, you hand it over.

    • Justin says:

      A few things. What you would do if you were a cop is irrelevant to any substantial debate here. The question is whether what the cops did was or was not in violation of the individual’s rights.

      In response to your parenthetical remark that the individual’s rights were “given to [him] by the state.” I’m not sure if it was your intent, but this remark smacks of the extreme position on which there are no truly *natural* rights; natural rights being rights the having of which isn’t contingent on their being respected in the legal system. If there were no such rights to violate despite its being legal (according to the state) to do so, then the founders of this country were upset about a lot of nothing.

      Perhaps you’ll recognize the following (if not, you should Google it):

      “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are *endowed by their Creator* with certain *unalienable Rights*, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That *to secure these rights*, Governments are instituted among Men, *deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed*, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, *it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it*, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

      Now, I don’t necessarily intend by the above remarks to support the individual’s claim that his rights were violated; I just tire of hearing conservatively-minded people announce, as if it were some sort of datum, that the state’s approval is the only ground of what rights a person has.

      • Roger Douthall says:

        There are no natural rights. The founding fathers were upset because highly respected intellectuals told them they had them. No where in that quote is there a reasoned argument for where the rights come from. Prove god exists and you can say they’re from god. Find the rights allele in our genes and you can say its our nature. But until then, I’ll stick by the only other option that enough people think we have them.

      • Roger Douthall says:

        Also I’m not sure if you noticed, but you said first that “the question is whether what the cops did was or was not in violation of the individual’s rights. And then followed up with “Now, I don’t necessarily intend by the above remarks to support the individual’s claim that his rights were violated.” Not only do you not state whether or not you support this individual, you don’t even discuss it at all. You should check out the Writing Center in Callaway. They’ll show you how to write an intro and conclusion.

      • Roger, weren’t you the one complaining about ad hominem attacks just a few posts up?

      • Justin says:

        The point with the quote wasn’t to provide an argument for natural rights, more to suss out how presently committed you are to the notion that there are no such rights. Now, having read your response and some of your other comments, it’s clear, both how extreme (and seemingly ill-informed) your position is, and how little point there would be in any attempt at engaging in civil debate with you here. Have a nice life!

    • sg says:

      The cop handled his gun after Joe was already handcuffed – what kind of an idiot are you?

    • Stewart says:

      Seriously, Roger, did you just say that these rights were given to Joe by the state? What country are you living in? Have you not read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Surely you must be aware that the state is empowered to protect these rights given by God. The states has no power to grant or restrict rights.

    • Josh Druhan says:

      Roger, you seem to have muddled the timeline of events. The officer kept reaching for his gun as he was handcuffing the student. At this point, the student was no longer reaching into his pocket nor doing anything but submitting to arrest.

  16. Roger Douthall says:

    And I’m actually interested in that outline comment. I’d like to break down all that common dogma floating around in your head.

    • Michael says:

      Roger, I’m pretty sure you’d have a difficult time breaking down any dogma, Roger, but we all know you try daily in your philosophy courses and I’m sure your fellow students love you for it. You’re that guy.

      Just as a quick example, you are obviously a mediocre thinker if you consider “…I find it funny that you claim your rights were violated, (these same rights given to you by the state).” This is some convoluted way of suggesting that all since rights are not inherent they must derive from an authority and therefore the authority has full control of when and whether they can be canceled. Bravo! Equating a police officer to the state itself, and suggesting that whatever a police officer does is justified since rights aren’t natural and he is the state. Man, that’s some backbreaking logic, I have no doubt you will crush Joe Diaz in this debate, and you are beacon of the Emory philosophy department. You have a bright a future in administration, sincerely.

      • Roger Douthall says:

        Thanks Michael! At first I was reading your comment seriously; but then I realized there was no real argument and just lots of ad hominem fallacies. But since we’re breaking down into baser thinking, this philosophy student stereotype you’re describing, you’re the guy that breaks people like that down and feels proud. You’re your own stereotype to a higher degree.

      • Roger, you attack people personally and call them idiots because they use an ad hominem attack. I hope you can see the folly.

      • Pete says:

        Jeffrey, don’t sweat Roger. He’s just an internet troll. If you search the Emory people directory, nothing pops up under “Douthall,” although he may go to Emory since he seems to be familiar with Callaway. He’s clearly not interested actually debating or convincing anyone, as he has yet to provide any sort of affirmative argument for the actions of the police. The core of what he’s saying is “they’re right because they’re powerful” and “we shouldn’t question their power, because they’re right.” It’s a pretty easily constructed logical loop, but its the sort of thing that drives reasonable people nuts when they see it and think it’s sincere.

        I do have to admit he’s got a pretty killer combination of bizarre conclusory statements (“there can only be three absolutes regarding humanity”), straw men arguments (whatever it is he keeps saying about finding philosophical concepts in genetics, which is bizzare) and insults though, so he’s clearly gotten under some people’s skin.

        Also (this is one of my pet peeves, so you got me on this one, Roger), despite his ostensible undergrad background in philosophy, he doesn’t seem to understand what an ad hominem fallacy is. An ad hominem fallacy is not saying something to hurt someone’s feelings. That’s an insult. When someone looks at your arguments, sees them as unsavory, concludes that you’re an unsavory person, and informs you of their conclusion there’s nothing illogical about that. An ad hominem fallacy is when someone says something like “Roger is smelly, so we shouldn’t listen to him.”

        So when people say that the Roger persona is a fascist tool, they’re drawing a conclusion based on his statements, which is totally reasonable (if not always politely phrased). “Roger’s statements (insofar as they bear any resemblance to a coherent ideology) are essentially fascist statements. Fascism is a philosophy that people have reasonably concluded is wrong. Therefore Roger’s statements are wrong. I don’t like fascists, therefore I don’t like Roger.” This all follows logically.

        tl;dnr – This kid’s not for real. He’s either a right-wing parody or someone who likes riling up lefties. Either way, don’t feed the trolls.

        Hope everyone else can conduct a reasonable assessment of what went down here. Personally I could go either way, but I’d say it’s worth talking about. Joe, thanks for posting.

      • Pete says:

        *ugh, I didn’t quite formulate the ad hominem thing correctly (that was going to drive me nuts).

        It should be “Roger is smelly, therefore his statements are wrong.” The fallacy is attacking the speaker about something irrelevant to the argument rather than his argument. But when the element of the speaker’s identity being attacked is derived from his argument, that’s not necessarily a fallacy (e.g.: “You are a brutal human being.” as a response to “We should stomp people’s faces in, because I like doing it.”)

  17. a says:

    “I do want to comment that your EmoryCard is Emory property, and it even says so on the back. If an Emory police officer asks for it, you must give it up.” Of course the first sentence doesn’t imply the second. Why do you think that if an Emory police officer asks for an Id, then a student must give it up?

    • Matthias says:

      Because when you enroll, you agree to the terms and conditions which site the right of law enforcement to ask for and be given your Student credentials…Maybe that could be it…Nobody forced Joe to sign anything away, he enrolled in it.

  18. Robin Vestal says:

    I think that what you experienced is unfair and unjust however you are fortunate in that you have a voice and can protest. I think things like this happen daily, hourly and often to immigrants and people of color in particular and it’s a disgrace. As long as people wink or side with order it will continue and worsen. I pray each day for peace and justice and that people will stop turning away from injustice. I’m glad for your lady friend that you spoke up. Do you know what happened to her?

  19. Some Guy says:

    “On a random tangent, I find it funny that you claim your rights were violated, (these same rights given to you by the state) and fail to cooperate with the agents of this state (the cops),”

    The state doesn’t have the power to give rights. They are (supposed) to be inalienable. The state can either protect or violate rights — that’s it.

    • Roger Douthall says:

      These rights don’t actually exist; there’s nothing in our DNA that says we have these rights. A bunch of people got together and decided it’d be nice to have them. This is a state. We amend the Constitution all the time. In 1966 we were given the right to remain silent, something you might consider doing.

      • Pete says:

        …and so if the state and its agents suddenly decide you have no rights anymore, that’s totally cool beans, right? Clearly nothing can be wrong if done under the color of law. Let us grovel at the feet of the police who so benevolently provide us with safety!

        I sort of suspect that you’re not actually a real person. The philosophy undergrad with the simplistic worldview who wants to lecture condescendingly to everyone else is a bit too much of a stereotype. Unless you’re actually a freshman who just read his first book on utilitarianism (or are you mangling positivism here?), in which case, carry on.

        If you’re trolling, however, bravo. This is pretty stellar stuff.

      • BL says:

        To what extent do we owe cooperation with the agents of the state? It seems that the state can bestow rights and simultaneously have their agents violate those rights. In such cases, we surely don’t have any sort of moral obligation to cooperate with the agents of the state, and it seems totally legit to complain that they’re violating our rights.

      • Kitty says:

        So by “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable Rights,” Thomas Jefferson actually meant, “endowed by me and the Continental Congress with certain inalienable Rights”? The very purpose of the section is to recognize that the State DOES NOT give us these rights, and it CANNOT take them away.

      • Student_A says:

        Which means agents of the state should not be allowed to violate the rights that the state claims to protect. And when they do (which they have if you get your head out of your ass and realize that Occupy is not a “disturbance”–it’s non-violent free speech.) then these “agents of the state” needs to take responsibility for these abuses. While police brutality cannot be fixed through any bandage means, i.e. punishing individuals, these instances are examples of something deeper that is now bubbling to the surface. The must be addressed.

      • JWK says:

        Nothing in our DNA “says” anything. You’re not representing philosophy undergrads very well here.

      • c says:

        If only you stupid Republicans (I don’t give a flying fuck if your actually a ‘conservative democrat’) like you would allow the ‘right to bear arms’ to be ammended from the constitution then the police wouldn’t have to be ‘trained to assume they [the suspects] are armed for their own safety’ (never mind that approaching a police officer to ask why their arresting someone doesn’t make you a ‘suspect’, since it doesn’t give good reason for them to think you’ve committed a crime (this is a moral-cum-normative claim, i’ve no idea what the legal definition of suspect is and I don’t care)). But I bet you think it’s an important right to preserve for reasons unexplainable to anyone with half an inch of sense.
        Also, I bet even conservative assholes like you don’t carry your guns in the university library and that even cops aren’t thick enough to not realize this.
        Still congratulations for being an improvement on the person who thinks it’s funny to joke about the protester being raped in the showers. (But then, most conservative think that prison rape is a) part of the punishment for doing the crime or doing something suspicious enough to become a suspect and go to jail and b) ‘hilarious’ because it’s gay, so maybe you just forgot.)

      • Roger Douthall says:

        Exactly Pete. It is cool beans. To put it in layman’s terms, The most powerful determine what’s right and what’s wrong. There can only be three sources of absolutes regarding humanity: God, DNA, or social structures. Absolute morality can’t stem from God in the USA because we’re a secular nation. And let me know when you find a gene coding for the Ten commandments. Our concept of right and wrong can then only stem from social structure. Who passes laws? The government. Who enforces the laws? The cops. So by extension, the cops determine right and wrong. If you don’t like that, you sieze power. And if you don’t feel up to it, then you’re left to operate within the confines allowed. So yeah, the only reason they’re not kicking this guy’s ass is because they know they’ll lose power and have right and wrong shifted out of their favor.

      • Roger Douthall says:

        Your first statement is exactly right Kitty. What the constitution writers are actually doing isn’t stating that we have god given rights; if they actually wanted to make that clear, they’d do more to convince the King rather than just stating it as an offhand justification. They’re manipulating people’s idea of religion to seem more justified. Like in my previous comment, it all related back to power. By making their idea of rights accessable to a wider audience (using god), they’re building up a stronger base of support. That’s all.

      • Corey says:

        Wow. You are the stereotypical 18-year-old, just-took-a-philosophy-course kid.

  20. Virginia M. says:

    “Does Emory University have a Identify-Yourself-or-Else policy?”

    Yes, Joe, they do. You actually signed it with your own hand in order to attend and to have access to Emory University private property, including Woodruff Library. Access to Emory private property is often extended as a courtesy to the community, but is in no way legally or contractually guaranteed by the university. If you had done everything in your power according to the rules of the school to change this before resisting submitting your card (which is actually Emory property you happen to hold), then I would perhaps sympathize with your grand stand a bit more. I too was an Emory student, and even as an undergraduate I knew more about the legal requirements of attending a private school than you – in fact, the rules were made quite clear to me, so as an advanced PhD student you were either not paying close attention or might be purposefully obfuscating your understanding of them in order to gain sympathy. I also supported the ID rules at Emory; as a very small-natured person, it increased my feeling of personal safety.

    Furthermore, your theories about “Combat Zone” mindsets are catchy, but assume gradiose amounts of insider knowledge on the emotional states of the policemen. As a philosophy student, I would expect your assumptions about emotional states, their existence and exact nature, to be less egregious and far reaching. As far as you being obviously passive, you again assume so much about what is “obvious” and what is “passive.” I didn’t see passivity on your part; I suspect the library students didn’t either, which is why several can be heard cheering at the end after witnessing the supposed police brutality. What IS obvious here is that what is obvious to you, was not obvious to other witnesses.

    I congratulate you on your desire to assist with an acquaintance, but surely there are better ways of doing it than blatantly disregarding rules that you yourself agreed to and turning the entire episode into a media bonanza (which I initially thought may have been your plan). There were errors in judgment made on the part of both the cops and yourself, and once you realize this, you may be able to mature and find ways of communicating across what you see as the “Combat Zone” mindset. Communication should be a first priority, with resistance and friction a distant Plan B. I unfortunately did not see this reflected in either the policemen’s or your behavior.

  21. K says:

    I think that you acted inappropriately. You shouldn’t have been going through your pockets for your phone while talking to the police and you should have handed over your ID card the first time they asked for it. You shouldn’t be completely surprised that they arrested you. It’s true, you have to choose your battles. BUT I also think the way you were treated was completely inappropriate and should be considered abuse. It is very upsetting to read what you went through and know that the police feel their treatment of you was acceptable. I am a young, white female and reading this I just kept thinking that what happened to you would probably never happen to someone who looks like me, which just makes it even more wrong. I’m very sorry for what you went through and I hope your school and community speaks out for you.

  22. Trevor says:


    I, as well as you know, one picture out of context is not evidence of the majority of law enforcement having more firepower than a standard handgun. You can check any standard police officer in Atlanta, and they will not have more firepower than a handgun. Would they have access to it if the situation calls for it? Yes, there are SWAT-trained officers.

    Dear a,

    you state ““I do want to comment that your EmoryCard is Emory property, and it even says so on the back. If an Emory police officer asks for it, you must give it up.” Of course the first sentence doesn’t imply the second. Why do you think that if an Emory police officer asks for an Id, then a student must give it up?””

    Emory police have the authority to ask for your ID at anytime. It’s standard at any university or work place. The details are there when you opt to receive an Emory Card. You know those User Licenses and Agreements you didn’t read, it’s in there. But I can even argue this from an even more obvious standpoint. You let your friend borrow your car. You ask for your car back to use it for the day. They say no. Obviously, your friend is in the wrong. This is the same policy for the EmoryCard. It is NOT your property. There are times when you can refuse to give an officer your real ID, but the Emory ID can be demanded because it’s not your property. Sorry sir, that’s how property rights work.

    • Alex says:


      Not just any police station in Atlanta…This is Emory’s own Police homepage.

    • Steve Sleeve says:

      “There are times when you can refuse to give an officer your real ID, but the Emory ID can be demanded because it’s not your property. Sorry sir, that’s how property rights work.”

      1. I don’t recall a charge for a property crime.

      2. Virtually all ID is property of the issuing institution (e.g., passport, driver’s license), and SCOTUS has qualms with this line of argument. Of course, although a student ID is pretty flimsy in comparison, the amateur brigade in this situation presumably has police powers, and so the 4th amendment is presumably implicated — especially in that the arrest was quite obviously premised on a failure to identify, not a failure to relinquish property. (Again, there was no mention of a property crime. If the concern in fact regarded property rights, the police certainly failed to make that part known, either as the reason for arrest or in the charge itself.)

      3. Finally, being an employee of X does not automatically empower you to confiscate (or even to view) property of X which has been given to someone else by a separate body of X. That is also how property rights work. Of course, a relevant empowerment might be written into the bylaws of the institution (which are in turn validated by municipal or state law), but if nothing of the sort is written, there is no such right. Of course, I presume that they would indeed have this right, in which case see 2. above (regarding how no one actually considered this a property crime and how your entire line of argument is thus a red herring.)

    • sg says:

      Even if as an administrative regulation, or licensing agreement between itself and its students when it licenses possession of ID cards, these are civil matters subject only to university disciplinary and administrative sanctions, not to criminal sanctions. Universities are not mini-governments with their own separate law making capabilities.

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  25. reviensamoi says:

    To the OP, I am sure you did not enjoy your processing at DeKalb County Jail, however those kinds of procedures are pretty much standard across the US. I believe that you were completely in the wrong to interfere in police activity regardless of the fact that you are “friends” with this Alice character. I would like to inform you as well that your friend was intoxicated and has been seen and confronted by Emory police on campus in previous instances. Read the Emory Wheel police record sometime. Numerous accounts of the same, apparently homeless, woman have been published in the Wheel. Unfortunately, one of the people you chose as a friend, got you arrested. Perhaps you’ll be more careful in the future in selecting those you choose to befriend.

  26. Ben Brucato says:


    I’m very sorry that you experienced what many others have. I was first assaulted by a police officer when I was only 12 years old. It woke me up to a reality experienced by millions, especially those closer to the margins for whatever reason.

    I’m currently working on a book chapter that primarily covers weaponization and surveillance for a book on the militarization of college campuses. You’ve made some very important points in this blog that I’d like to include in the chapter, and in connection to your experience detailed here.

    Please let me know if this is something you’d rather not have happen, or if you would simply prefer that I anonymize any information. Also, let me know if you need any material or political aid.

    In closing, don’t let any of the ironic authoritarians get you down. Despite their juristic rationalization, beneath all their assumptions lie a discourse and ideology that generate both the assumptions and this rationalizing. What may appear as a situated commentary reveals the deontological position from which it is made. These people possess and advance an ideology Adorno and other Frankfurt School theorists place within ‘the authoritarian personality.’ One day they advocate this absurd exaggeration of ‘property rights’ for this situation, and the next they’ll justify a million non-violent prisoners and the regimen they are all subjected to.

    Stay strong, stay vocal. In solidarity,


  27. richard says:


    just to provide you with some laughs.

  28. Oh kiddo. says:

    You’re an idiot for the way you handled that entire encounter with the police. Respect begets respect… Your behavior what that of a petulant child, who then proceeded to turn into a whimpering, whining child when the consequences of your actions were realized. It was so easy for you to cop an attitude and escalate the situation, but so hard for you to maintain your facade in the end. This is what happens when you spend all of your time in academia and not in the real world. In the real world, when a government official asks you for ID, you give it to them. It’s their job, and had you not created an aggressive situation, you wouldn’t have ended up in handcuffs.

    -someone who has encountered the APD for 15 years with no issues

  29. José says:

    Various people are trying to justify what was done to Joe on the basis that Joe should have given them his ID card. But Joe had already shown them his Emory ID card — in response to one cop’s request “student, where is your ID card.” Then, AFTER Joe had showed it –aparently to that officer’s satisfaction– as he was exiting the space, the other cop demands to “see” it and then, as Joe is displaying it to him, this cop starts shouting abusively and threateningly at Joe as if Joe hadn’t complied.

    I believe that under the circumstances, Joe correctly interpreted the officer’s behavior as creating a threatening situation for Joe, among other things causing Joe to hesitate in handing over the ID while disengaging from appearing threatening or confrontational himself. I’ll come back to that.

    But first, this cop says Emory requires Joe to “deliver” the ID and if he fails to do so it is “obstruction of justice.” That raises the obvious question: is, assuming for argument’s sake, that Joe’s hesitation in handing over his ID did breach his contractual obligations to Emory regarding this card, does violation of a contract between private parties constitute “obstruction of justice”? If it had been a different sort of Emory employee, say a librarian, would Joe’s actions have constituted an “obstruction of justice”?

    And even granting for argument’s sake that Joe would have been under an obligation to hand over the card, had it been properly requested, was the way it was demanded proper and reasonable? Joe had already complied –twice– with requests that he show them the ID. Instead of saying, thanks, but I need to look at it more closely or something like that, the second officer immediately starts castigating Joe for failure to comply, as if Joe had responded to the request that he show them his Emory card by giving them the finger instead of having, in fact, complied with the request.

    This creates cognitive dissonance, basically, it does not compute. And the officer’s aggressive tone adds to that. Joe’s reaction –continuing to back away while explaining his actions– seems totally appropriate, and as he sees that he has not disengaged because the officer has followed him, he continues to try to communicate to the officer that whatever threat or danger the officer imagined Joe represented was wrong. The message the cop communicated was, I am threatening you with bodily harm and Joe’s response was, no, there is no need to do that. The officer could have –should have– allayed Joe’s apprehension by explaining calmly, sir, I just need to look at your Emory Card more closely to verify it’s really you. Even after grabbing Joe, the officer could have chosen to de-escalate when Joe was protesting that he was a student by responding, “well, I will let you go if you agree to hand over your ID so I can examine it and make sure.”

    There is a legal term for the message the cop conveyed with his shouting, body language, attitude and invasion of Joe ‘s personal space. That term is assault. It means threatening to harm someone in such a way as to create fear of harm in the person, provided that fear was reasonable. Joe’s reaction in backing away and trying to explain himself shows that the cop’s behavior had indeed evoked a reaction of fear of physical harm on Joe’s part.

    That this instinctive interpretation by Joe was not mistaken is shown by the next couple of seconds, because after Joe has exited to the less confined space the more aggressive cop follows, shouting, approaching him within inches and then, without even giving Joe a chance to finish his sentence, he physically attacks Joe.

    And it was an attack, for the cop grabs Joe, rams him against the turnstile pillars, drags him back, now with the help of the other cop, and it is only AFTER Joe starts protesting this treatment that the cop says he is placing Joe under arrest.

    That is not the way arrests are supposed to be made: the person is told he/she is under arrest and verbally given instructions on what they are to do, especially since the officer is going to be touching them and you don’t want this to become a brawl. An arrest is not when a person is grabbed and rammed against some physical structure to then have their arms twisted back painfully without explanation.

    IANAL, but in my lay opinion, several laws are implicated. Assault and battery are crimes in Georgia; I believe they are also torts (grounds for civil lawsuit for damages). The cop was acting as an agent of Emory, making the corporation liable in the case of a tort. The cop is deputized by some level of government, the county, I think, making it liable. That it was carried out against a member of a minority group by someone acting as a police officer may also bring this into federal criminal jurisdiction.

    In my opinion the demand that the recording stop and the cop’s response that Joe is resisting to Joe’s complaints that he is being hurt show bad faith on the part of the cop — he is conscious that he is acting incorrectly and makes an effort to prevent documentation and then to create a false impression that Joe is resisting arrest. That they took him and booked him instead of just letting him go once they had verified his identity is further evidence of bad faith. There was no police investigation that Joe was obstructing. But to drop the charges, they will insist that Joe sign away his right to sue them.

    I don’t see how a charge of obstruction of Justice or anything like that against Joe is relevant. The officer was quite explicit that he was acting in his capacity as an Emory employee applying Emory’s rules, and moreover, his demand was presented in such a confusing and threatening way that Joe’s hesitation for a few seconds can hardly be construed as a refusal to cooperate with a putative police investigation — especially as he’s just been told this is an Emory rules issue. And, confirming that Joe was right in sensing a threat of physical violence, we have the cop attacking him.

    I am quite a bit older than Joe, and was active protests movements in the 60s and 70s at the time of the antiwar movement and Watergate scandals. Because of that experience, I do not discard other sinister hypothesis about this encounter.

    I think the second cop consciously injected himself into a matter the first cop had already handled — checking to make sure that Joe really was a student — for an illegitimate purpose. The question is, what was his purpose, his motive?

    “Back in the day” police were briefed on and became familiar with “troublemakers,” activists, and these were often the subject of attention and countless lawless and even criminal actions by authorities. “Cointelpro” — the FBI disruption programs against the Black movement, leftists, the antiwar movement and so on — is sometimes remembered, but the important thing to understand is that what was uncovered was that police and security agencies at all levels of government functioned in this way. I believe parallel sorts of things are going on today, and one day it will be confirmed, just as what was done in the 60s was found out years later.

    So I would not discount that the officer involved recognized Joe as an activist, and that is what motivated his behavior, not just general nastiness. Joe has been active in Occupy Atlanta and all over the country, there is obviously a coordinated campaign by local authorities to disrupt this movement even while claiming that they’re just applying health rules or “closing” times on parks, even though these are wide-open spaces and can’t really be “closed” in any physical meaning of the term. Whether Emory police have had internal discussions about the “party line” or this one guy just picked it up from seeing the news, that also might have been involved. Another possibility is that the cop saw Joe was Latino or had that suspicion confirmed by Joe’s name when Joe showed him his card, and that this was just one more example of the incredible hostility that has been whipped up against Latinos, especially in this state. Or some combination.

    Only Joe can make this decision, of course, in consultation with his lawyers, family and friends. And I will support him however he decides to handle it. But what I would hope would happen in a case like this someday is that the victim is in a position to be able to agree to a public campaign demanding the charges be dropped unconditionally, and then that the cop, Emory and the county be the targets of a civil suit, with the aim of bringing to light all the circumstances behind this, including Emory police procedures and training, surveillance and targeting of radicals, and so on. This would be a legal defense/offense strategy and it would be both in court and in the court of public opinion.

    Again, how to handle this is up to Joe, but in the interest of curbing this sort of abuse, I hope a case like this one day leads to that kind of political/judicial campaign.

    • Christian Gonzalez says:

      My comment near the top of the thread seems to have missed your post by nearly ten minutes, so I’m not entirely sure if you saw it or not. However, I would like to point out a few things for you:

      Interfering with an officer’s lawful duties (such as interrogation) is obstruction in Georgia. Upon entering the room where it was taking place, he entered a realm where they are the dominant authority, and should have complied to their instructions (it states in the Emory code of conduct which both students, Joe and Meghan, agreed to upon being enrolled to comply with all instructions from either Emory or regular law enforcement officials on campus). I’m not saying that where a cop is located is where they can suddenly assume authority; I’m saying that upon entering a location where not one, not two, but three police officers are standing, lightly interrogating someone, he, as a regular citizen, should have complied with all of their instructions (within reason). Also in Georgia, recording a private conversation in a private place (such as in a cordoned off room of a private university library) without everyone’s consent is breaking their eavesdropping and surveillance law, so they could have arrested Meghan as well if they saw fit. Also, after looking closely at the video, the officer clearly warns Joe that he will arrest him for obstruction if he does not comply with his reasonable instruction of handing over his ID card (as it is interfering with the officers being able to conduct their lawful duty), and he proceeds to do just that as Joe not only walks away from the officer, but begins attempting to narrate an illegal recording, as well as record the incident himself.

      Did the cop go a little overboard with the slamming? Maybe. But, honestly, it’s justifiable when some smartass kid interrupts your interrogation, won’t comply with your reasonable instructions because he “knows his rights”, attempts to leave mid-conversation, and is attempting to record it illegally while narrating another illegal recording (which is apparently okay in the First Amendment? I don’t remember TJ having a camera phone, but I could be wrong).

      Honestly the charges will probably be dropped once the prosecutors get a look at everything because some cases aren’t worth it, but even if they aren’t, Joe has a tough time explaining that he didn’t obstruct them by interrupting their interrogation, fleeing, and attempting to record it.

  30. Ed says:

    Wow. So many comments from people approving of a student being arrested — as the commenters admit! — militaristically, when it is obvious that that student presented absolutely no threat to anyone, especially when it’s been made clear (and _documented_ in the video recording) that he was injured by the officers (again, having posed no threat). It’s sad to see so many happy slaves joyously licking the boot of the master. I’m pretty sure I can guess what they would have said about the abolitionists before the Civil War, if they had been alive then…
    As for the “issue” of the ID card, it’s truly weird that commenters would think this is more important than cops needlessly arresting and in the process injuring a non-violent, non-threatening student.

    • Roger Douthall says:

      It’s sad to see so many wanna-be activist upperclass kids with a gaping hole in finding meaning in their lives.

      • Corey says:

        One of these things is worse than the other.

      • Rima says:

        Ad hominem, fucker.

      • c says:

        Oh my God, surely not people trying to find meaning in their lives by doing something they believe to be useful and moral. Will the horrors never cease!
        I guess you prefer upperclass kids who don’t give a fuck about other people. Or maybe you think being upper-class just autotmatically makes someone evil.(Not to mention you don’t even know the background of the person in this case etc.)

      • Kate Norlock says:

        Ad hominem.

      • Ed says:

        Wow. Thanks for an absolutely contentless reply. It does, however, speak for itself. (Apparently you like to fling the ad hominem charge against others but at the same time you feel free to use it yourself. Nice.) When someone you know gets randomly swept up in a SWAT raid through no fault of their own (perhaps one of those fun “whoops, wrong address” cases) see their house damaged and get injured or shot by the militarized authorities in the process, maybe you’ll wake up. If not, I’m sure your friend will be glad to hear from you that it was their fault. “What did you expect?,” you’ll say to your friend with the broken door and broken arm — “I would be more than happy to provide complete justification for this incident if you’ve got the time,” you’ll generously offer. And I’m supposed to be the one with a gaping meaning hole? Wow.

      • Roger Douthall says:

        @Rima, Ad hominem

      • E Blair says:

        Ad hominems are shite.

        Roger Douthall, “ad hominem on ad hominem”

  31. Horrifying comments, to see young people kowtow to authority like this. Yes, Joe was not making a good choice to get involved, but what happened to him is Not ok. That anyone thinks it is just shows how successfully the militarized congressional corporate homeland security camera prison mentality society speak bs is working. I’m old enough to remember when the only camera you were ever on was at the bank. Now they say here in Chicago a commuter is seen on camera approximately 130 times on an average trip to work. Wake up.

  32. Jason Ball says:


    Thank you for sharing your story. It is a wake up call, as are some is some of the commentary on your post which reaffirms the most disturbing of your various insights: that the operation of the police state has become so normalized that many people truly believe that when the police place their attention on somebody, that person must become unquestioningly obedient and compliant or suffer whatever consequences the police mete out.

  33. Child of God says:

    thats some stupid shit why did they lock you up and treat you inhumanely
    institutionalized cruelty
    i hate when this happens
    it sucks

  34. James Z says:

    This is why everybody hates cops. Theyre dirty and they try to be tough guys instead of doing their job.

  35. YourStupid says:

    your retarded. you were arrested for being a smart ass. at no point were you yelled at like you described. if you had shown the cop your ID you coulda just gone home, not to mention the officer warned you more than once you would be arrested. he had every right to arrest you, you were in obstruction, look up Mr. PhD. and what do you expect? its jail, not a Marriot hotel stupid ass.
    and im not a big fan of cops eiter, i just have th
    common to notice a stupid ass tryin to get famous and on tv.

  36. Yisrael says:

    It has long been acceptable for police to assert power in criminal ways.. I like your comparison of police situations to ‘Combat Zones’.. I think that that’s why citizens tend to be so leniant on police. Here in Houston, a mass majority of police crimes that are charged are found ‘not guilty’, even in the most heinous crimes. We have a couple of police watchdog organizations, but they don’t enjoy high visibility. It’s not like the media does not report on police crimes because many times when there is such an event, it makes headline news. But why don’t the police get charged? It’s a combination of leniancy toward police by citizens (due to above stated cause), friendships between police and judges (corruption), (I suspect) fear amongst citizens of the consequences of charging police officers, and leniant laws toward police (police enjoy a certain level of protection under most state laws). What can we do to change these attitudes? Standing up to police is essentially akin to facing an army. Why don’t police forces fall under OUR command? Why can they harm us with little or no accountability? The small groups of people who stand up to police (such as yourself) are often seen as radical and most people don’t pay attention to them. Perhaps you have some ideas as to how to affectively protect citizens from police officers (sounds absurd, doesn’t it)? I’m more than willing to help. If you have some ideas as to what I can do, please let me know. My email address is yisrael.lax@gmail.com

  37. Yisrael says:

    Just to follow up; hopefully this will catch your attention. Though I think you may have made a mistake in failing to hand over your I.D., I have no doubt that what followed was not only illegal but criminal. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help, Joe. My email address is: yisrael.lax@gmail.com

  38. Susie says:

    Blogs like this are why it’s important to read multiple sources to get a balanced account 🙂

    Every witness I’ve talked to said Joe was being a complete asshole. In the video—which conspicuously left out the beginning of the incident, when he was supposedly checking on his friend—he looks dodgy and evasive, adopts a disrespectful tone with the police, and pulls out his cell phone, ignoring them. All he had to do was show his ID.

    These people spew lies and rhetoric all the time to garner publicity. Check out their blog—http://freestudentsofemory.blogspot.com/

    It’s ridiculous enough that somebody made a hilarious spoof: http://oppressedstudentsofemory.blogspot.com/

    The youtube video itself is also titled and described in an incredibly misleading manner. Joe was not arrested for trying to help a homeless woman—he was arrested for interfering with police officers who had been called in to help the intoxicated lady to the hospital. All Joe did was delay this process by interfering and being an all-around pain in the ass. The homeless lady was never in danger of being sent out of the library into the “cold rain,” as the video’s description suggests; rather, she was taken to the hospital, and was NEVER arrested.

    Joe’s account of the events is understandably biased. I encourage you not to take what he says at face value—he’s a habitual arrestee and a troublemaker who thrives off of controversy and attention.

    And to those of you saying this is evidence that America is a police state—you’re incredibly naive. America is, however, a state with police, and as such, people are going to be arrested. The kids in the video who were laughing at Joe at the end had seen the entire event. If you want to believe that they were assholes, so be it, but keep in mind that they had a better perspective on his arrest than you did—since they were there, and all YOU did was watch a propaganda video, accompanied by a melodramatic and sensationalist blog post.

  39. […] How Joe Diaz was arrested, to be put into the file under “reflexive militarization of university spaces”: The first thing I told the officers was, “Hi, I’m an Emory student and street medic, I know this woman, is she OK?” “Identify yourself!” commanded the largest officer in return. The next few moments happened very quickly. I did not get to talk to Alice at all. I did not walk over to her. I did not stand between her and the police. I felt unsafe in the enclosed area, and so remained near the door. As the police asserted their dominion over this part of the library, which I have spent literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours in over the past year and a half, I was simply taken aback. I was asked, “Are you an Emory student?” It is no trivial fact to note that this question was hollered at me aggressively. Since I opened my interaction with the police by informing them that I am an Emory student, at this point I knew they were not listening to my words. I knew the officers were in a ‘military mindset.’ […]

  40. anonymous says:

    The issue at hand is not whether Joe was wrong. Of course he was. The issue is the absurdly forcible response he was given. I’ve done worse than what Joe did and received more lenient treatment. Yeah, he was wrong… like jaywalking is wrong.

  41. Thank you for writing this.

  42. Christian Gonzalez says:

    I find it rather odd that both of my other comments are still “awaiting moderation”, despite other posters’ comments timestamped after mine being posted. I’m assuming that Joe is the one who is “moderating” them, in which case, it’s quite a shame that, after someone answers the question Joe posed in this blog with sources and logic, Joe decides to leave it out of the public’s view. Interesting how someone who advocates free speech censors others when they prove him wrong.

    I hope you fare well in your trial, Joe, if it ever gets there. Mistakes happen when you’re uninformed, and I hope that the chargers are dropped. I hope this is a lesson to you, though, to actually know what you’re doing before you barrel head-first into a tense situation.

    • Virginia M. says:

      Yes, mine have been awaiting moderation now for several days as well, while other arguments (either obvious straw-men against Joe, or arguments in favor of him) have found their way on here.

  43. I found this to be disturbing. What is happening in America today is troubling! I don’t take stock in conspiracy theory and outright paranoid behavior, however, sometimes things start to build up. The silencing of student voices, the outright disregard for a student checking on a friend…what a joke this police dept. is! What happened to the mantra ‘Police protect and SERVE the public!’ not harass and brutalize the public!

    With this, the pepper spraying incidents, the outright polarization of this country into left/right politics is disturbing to me. What happened to a good old fashioned debate? Civil debate that is. I am beginning to wonder, after reading pieces like this, what has happened to common decency in America? Why would a police force act in such a heinous manner?

    What is wrong with the people? Why are the majority of American’s so apathetic towards everything political and social? How does what is broken get fixed if apathy takes over our sense of injustice and silences our voices?

  44. […] couldn’t stop reading this. And so there I stood, in jail, naked, in between two other naked male strangers, with a 3rd male, […]

  45. AtlantaCivilRightsAtty says:

    This was not your fault. You showed your ID by consent. You were not required to surrender it. In my practice, I’ve learned that many make excuses for police abuse unless and until they find themselves or a loved one in a precarious situation. Somehow, some refuse to expect police to excercise wise discretion or simply honor the letter of the law. All is hubris. Continue to walk in love and stand for those who are silenced. The world needs your courage.

  46. Austin Rasmussen says:

    This story was actually very frightning to read. I have always had a respect for the police, and never imagined that any branch of the police would be so outright aggressive about a student merely looking in upon a situation. I am not exactly sure if it was just the tendency of the police from that area; yet, still I am unnerved. The most disturbing, was the fact that you had a “TB” test injected into your arm. Even though TB tests take roughly a week to develop before they can be analyzed! Those officers were expecting you to be in Jail much longer than you were. I had a friend who had an experience with the police destroying his property, in his own house, because they suspected his uncle of being in possesion of drugs. (The uncle was staying at his family’s house for roughly a week.) I was hesitant to beleive my friend, as he may have just been mad and overexagerating. Now I am much more frightful of what could happen in a situation. I thank you for sharing your experience, as it shared a lot of constitutional rights that I was not quite aware of. I do hope things worked out for you in some way. Thank you again for sharing this.

  47. […] video and a brief account of  what happened in Inside Higher Ed’s coverage. Diaz has also blogged on the issue, and the comments section of his post is very […]

  48. […] video and a brief account of  what happened in Inside Higher Ed’s coverage. Diaz has also blogged on the issue, and the comments section of his post is very […]

  49. SKC says:

    Upon first viewing, I believed Joe had based his antagonistic attitude upon a martyr’s dream. Subsequent viewings reinforced this belief.

    To Joe: You did not have to be antagonistic to the police. They are people, like you, who felt threatened by your actions. You fumble in your pocket (with a gun?) after aggressively approaching them with your words and person. Why would you do this? MLK had grace, poise, and an undeniable calmness with which he changed the world. MLK used his words, harnessing his emotional response, for power. There are fights worth fighting, so strike when ready.

    To this thread’s commentators: Cops are generally reasonable. The cops here seem justified. But to a point. Complicated legal issues require investigations and turn upon perspectives. Joe might be at fault, but we can all agree that prisons suck. No one wants to be in jail, but often people wind up there. Stop attacking each other. Joe was impassioned, but you have the privilege to contemplate your responses. Poop out something better than the shit you keep piddling out now. Stupid responses give Emory a bad name, not a passionate individual.

  50. Zen says:

    Why don’t you sue the school and the police? Use the justice system for what it was intended: To have a fair and just outcome. That’s perfectly reasonable and within your rights. (It also forces the police to defend their actions.)

    • “Use the justice system for what it was intended: To have a fair and just outcome.”


      I just about want to slit my throat and gargle with my own blood as I drown in it — in despair of ever even coming close to licking the soles of the shoes of the brilliance of comment-writer Zen.

      Yes! Blindingly brilliant!!

      One gropes for a word that can begin to describe this staggering, earth-shattering insight. This isn’t just white, it’s the very distilled essence of whiteness delicately layered as a sauce over the most vulgar whole-wheat lasagna.

      Sue the pigs.

      Just like the Black slaves did.

      Just like the Native Americans.

      I mean, just look at how well it worked out for the Oglala:

      • And, of course, WordPress suppressed the link, but it was to upload-dot-wikimedia-dot-org-slash-wikipedia/commons/1/1d/DeadBigfoot.jpg

        Just substitute the realk things for the words “dot” and “slash”

      • Zen says:

        Could you sound any more like a loser victim?

        I doubt it.

  51. A “loser vicitim”? Hardly. I just believe that the the U.S. judicial system has less to do with fairness and justice than anthrax.

    • Zen says:

      You’re a one-sentence sitcom!

      Just feed you the straight lines and you deliver. Victim. Racist. Buffoon.

      Let’s see what you say next. I can’t wait.

  52. X says:

    my favorite part is how a bunch of assholes keep commenting as if you deserved ^all of that^ for such a minor rule not being followed

    hurr durr

    this is pretty terrible, but so are some of these comments, holy shit

  53. […] be shocked by individual cases of their viciousness, and I certainly found that was the case with this first-hand report and accompanying video of the unprovoked arrest of Joe Diaz, a 24-year-old philosophy student, in a […]

  54. […] student’s name: Joe Diaz. His account of his arrest and the assault he suffered can be read here. The event occurred last December and was publicized by Kevin Carson on his […]

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