Friday, June 24, 2011

Something Is Rotten in Rochester

Here's the scenario: A Rochester, N.Y., woman notices that police have pulled over a car in front of her house around 9:30 at night. She goes out to investigate what's happening and sees there are more than two police officers, and just one guy in the car, who is black.

As other neighbors come out, the woman, Emily Good, takes out her phone and starts videotaping the incident. Soon, one of the officers asks her to stop and tells her she can't be on the sidewalk. She backs up into her yard and insists that she has the right to videotape from her own property.

The officer says that he "doesn't feel safe" with her standing behind him, and tells her to go into her house. The situation continues to the point where he arrests her in her own yard. She did nothing except refuse to stop videotaping and go inside.

This situation reminds me of the Henry Louis Gates case, where an eminent Harvard professor was arrested in his own house for insulting the police after they thought he was breaking in through his own front door. Like Good, he was confronted with an unreasonable exercise of police authority on his own property.

Generally, I give the police a fair amount of leeway to act in ways I would normally consider uncivil, because I know they have a tough job and threats can come from many directions. But when a person is in her/his own house or yard and is not physically threatening, police officers had better act civil instead of like bullies. It doesn't seem like too much to ask.

Now this additional outrage: Neighbors who came to a meeting supporting Good were harassed by police when the police measured the distances the cars were parked from the curb and ticketed any that were more than 12" out.

From what I can tell, Good's arrest received little or no coverage in the Rochester mainstream media -- only on Rochester's -- until today. It had to (as they say, unfortunately) "go viral" to get noticed locally.


1 comment:

Steve Brezenoff said...

Ugh. It makes me ill. How convenient that the crucial bit of evidence for the prosecution occurred before she started videotaping.