Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Trying to Make Sense of the Peter Watts conviction...

So,Peter Watts was flagged for a random, stopped, and then got beat up, maced, etc., without any sort of meaningful provocation on his part. He is facing up to 2 years in prison for making the very reasonable statement to the border guards that were assaulting him without provocation: asking the officer who had just been punching Dr Watts in the face for no reason to please explain what the problem was that was getting Dr Watts beat up, maced, handcuffed, arrested, etc., and apparently the only threatening thing he did was ask questions like "So... What's the problem, officer?" and holding his arms out at his side and saying something like "Seriously, like, why are you beating me up without any provocation on my part? I come in peace! I have no weapons! Search anything you want!"

Yet, a jury felt he was legally non-compliant because he didn't move fast enough to get on the ground after a 51-year-old man had been punched in the face by an armed border guard. The jury convicted, not the assaulting officers who acted without meaningful provocation, but Dr Watts. Presumably he was guilty of assault for bruising Beaudry's knuckles with his face.

Any sane, rational human being realizes the statue of the law states that citizens have to comply in the course of lawful orders and lawful acts. Being assaulted is a non-lawful act. Being beat up, maced, etc., without any sort of reasonable cause of peril to the police officer is not a lawful act. Actually, the border guards involved in this fiasco ought to be the ones on trial for assault, and not complying with the people who spontaneously decided to beat you up, drag you from your car, and mace you is part of what makes someone sane.

Which is to say that the jury f***ed up, and now someone's facing jail-time for it, undeservedly. The whole point of having juries is to make sure some thoughtless, indifferent judge doesn't do something like that.

Read about it here... here... and notice how the news article gets this wrong in the first sentence, because it was clear that the only thing Peter Watts was guilty of was an interpretation of non-compliance, not assault, and not obstructing: here...

I, for one, think asking a police officer who's just beaten you in the face for no reason why he is hulking out is a pretty reasonable thing to ask. If I were Dr Watts, I'd be concerned for my safety getting on the ground, where I am defenseless against the unprovoked assault that this border guard was engaged in providing a normal, unarmed, non-violent individual.

When, the f***, did we become a police state?

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