Jefferson Dance Party Video

Monday, April 14th, 2008

Arrest comes at the end of the second video. My earlier post made the front page of Digg. So you’re bound to see some comments from people who don’t visit here regularly. Treat them politely, please.

Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark

46 Responses to “Jefferson Dance Party Video”

  1. #1 |  Robert S. Porter | 

    Well I don’t know about you, but I sure feel safer now.

  2. #2 |  MacK | 

    As a retired soldier of 20 years, and after reenlisting 6 times and swearing each time…. “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

    I do believe these are the domestic asses I shall have to defend the constitution against.

  3. #3 |  Below The Beltway » Blog Archive » Dancing With Mr. Jefferson | 

    [...] Radley Balko   [...]

  4. #4 |  Jman | 

    When’s the dance party at the Vietnam Veterans Wall? Grow up, chillens.

  5. #5 |  Greg N. | 

    THE STATE!

  6. #6 |  Wise | 

    Footloose meets 1984

  7. #7 |  Tom | 

    I reckon they showed her, that rock and roll is evil, EVIL I tell you. I feel so much safer that this has been taken off our streets. How can this kind of display be allowed in our society??? AND she didn’t even have a permit!!!! shame shame…..
    (sarcasm off)

  8. #8 |  Psion | 

    A bunch of people dancing in silence to music only they can hear sure does look strange and just a bit goofy, but arrest-worthy? I sure hope someone higher up in the chain of command had the sense to look at the arrest report and call the arresting officers into his or her office for a little closed-door emergency re-orientation.

    [thinks about that for a moment]

    Nah … that ain’t happening. Instead, they’ll circle the wagons over public ridicule and just reinforce the police-state mentality that’s become so en vogue with law enforcement.

  9. #9 |  bob | 

    Respect My Authoritah!

  10. #10 |  JCoke | 

    Its really hard to get the outside person to understand why I don’t like this, they think that a policeman’s authority is unquestionable and you deserve to get tased if you ask questions (I am not exaggerating, this is true). It doesn’t help that they think that dancing silently at midnight is stupid and doesn’t deserve to be protected.

    “The Constitution doesn’t protect your right to dance at a monument”

  11. #11 |  Greg N. | 

    I’m as astonished as anyone that any of this led to an arrest (although there were quite a few more non-dancers there than I originally thought. That changes the analysis, but not by enough to justify the arrest). On all of that, I’m certain most reasonable people can agree.

    However:

    The first 1:30-1:40 of the second video is embarrassing. And not mildly embarrassing; wildly, watching-a-terrible-comic-and-sweating embarrassing. Upon hearing that, the cops wouldn’t have had to ask me to leave, because I’d be long gone, my face buried in my hands. Just think about the litany of lame that was the first 90 or so seconds: “Don’t touch my property!” “Wow, you’re really angry…” “Read the walls!” “There is something wrong with America …” “The state is throwing us out!” And the worst part was the ultra-condescending, “Just think about that, all right?” Also, I don’t know the girl at 1:10-1:12, but she looks like she’s having the time of her life. While Brooke’s being arrested a few feet away, this girl looks psyched as hell to be raging against the machine, man.

    It doesn’t look like any of that directly impacted Brooke’s arrest, but if that was the general tenor of the conversation between cops and dancers, it goes beyond the “All we did was ask why, and they arrested us” excuse, and it does provide a glimmer (the slimmest glimmer) of reasonableness on the cops’ part (and no, I still don’t think the arrest was justified).

    Now, I’ve no idea what Brooke’s attitude toward the cops was, and from this video it looks a hell of a lot cooler than the speaker’s. At least it doesn’t appear that she’s yelling about her “property” and urging the police officers to “read the walls.” (I hope that wasn’t Talley on the video, but I’m afraid it was; Gainesville should be better served).

    All in all, and at the risk of alienating some of my former colleagues(Who are we kidding, right?), this looks like a really, really lame (but harmless) event that was misinterpreted by some bored and overzealous cops, who went overboard in their enforcement of a rule that doesn’t even exist, probably in partial retaliation to a bunch of hyped-up libertarian kids getting off on the fact that, finally, their battle with “the state(!)” had come to a head. And, unfortunately, Brooke took the fall for everyone (I’m disappointed she was even there. Kudos to Sanchez for skipping it, and I’m hoping against hope Wilkinson was a no-show, too).

    Minus away!

  12. #12 |  Gregory Peckory | 

    I will make a trip to DC soon and get my groove on.

  13. #13 |  bob | 

    With major props to Arlo Guthrie, next year ya’ll should do it one at a time, with a minute or two in between…

    If just one dances through, they’ll just think he’s crazy.

    If two dance through, they’ll probably think they’re fagots and not touch either of them.

    If three dance through, they might think it’s a movement

    “…The dance to Alice’s Restaurant on Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday Movement.”

  14. #14 |  Hannah | 

    “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions.

    In this way the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”

    Adolf Hitler

    So what exactly is the problem with the second video Greg? The guys talking to the officer at a reasonable tone and asking questions. He’s trying to point out the absurdity of their actions. Maybe the officers should read what’s written in the memorial.

  15. #15 |  Greg N. | 

    Hitler? Really?

    I think I’ve already explained my views of the second video. If you disagree, that’s OK.

  16. #16 |  The Jefferson 1 « Life, Liberty and Property | 

    [...] April 14, 2008 · No Comments There has been an explosion of commentary from the DC-libertarian-blogosphere over an incident that happened yesterday at the Jefferson Memorial. (More Coverage Here) [...]

  17. #17 |  Ned Ludd | 

    The guy talking on the video was definitely agitated by the police behavior, and I cringed at some of his remarks, but good for him. It’s good that people still get outraged by police misbehavior, even the minor injustices.

    And minor injustices have a chilling effect. I once got arrested without cause at a rally. As the police hauled me away, one of my friends yelled, “You bastard! That’s my ride!” After waiting in the police van, then the station, to be processed, an officer finally asked me, slightly baffled, “We don’t have any paperwork on you; what did you do wrong?” I politely told her that I didn’t know, hoping she might let me go. Instead she gruffly replied, “Well, we’ll charge you with trespassing.”

    At the same rally, long before I was arrested, another women walking on the sidewalk had her sign ripped from her hands and tore in two by one of our peace officers. She yelled at him about her first amendment rights, in a manner that Greg N. would probably disapprove of, and got hauled away. When I later got loaded onto the police van, she was stewing in there, and after I took my seat she spit out the door as the police officer closed it. I remember thinking, no, don’t do that. But she had every right to be pissed.

    When the lot of us showed up at the pre-trial hearing, which involved taking time off of work since I worked nowhere near the courthouse, we found out that all the charges had been dropped.

    The police do this intentionally to have a chilling effect. If you have a political rally, or a flash mob, or show up at midnight to dance at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, it makes their job harder than if you just walk around quietly. So the police take the malcontents down to the police station, let them sit for hours waiting to be processed, let them figure out how to get back to their cars or homes once they are released, and then have them take time off work for a pre-trial hearing where they find out the charges have been dropped. Eventually, people learn that there’s a cost associated with expressing yourself in a public area.

  18. #18 |  Chris | 

    I’m pretty sure that quote by Hitler is made up, first because it only shows up through Google on sites after 2007, and second because it sounds like something a Bond villain would say.

    Yeah. That first bit is pretty girly, like any number of confrontations I’ve seen between cops and college kids. But still – the cops had no right, used no discretion, and did a piss poor job of serving the good people whose taxes purchase their badges.

    I guess someone could argue that the park police in particular having boring jobs, little respect, etc … but anyone could retort that their gold shields are as much to restrain them as they are to defend their actions.

  19. #19 |  Alex | 

    “The first 1:30-1:40 of the second video is embarrassing. And not mildly embarrassing; wildly, watching-a-terrible-comic-and-sweating embarrassing. Upon hearing that, the cops wouldn’t have had to ask me to leave, because I’d be long gone, my face buried in my hands. Just think about the litany of lame that was the first 90 or so seconds”

    This.

    I do think we live in something approximating a police state, but this is the worst imaginable example. That cameraman is long overdue for a beating, and I commend the police for not giving into what must have been an overwhelming urge.

    “It’s good that people still get outraged by police misbehavior, even the minor injustices.”

    Really? It seems to me that if someone had talked to a cop man to man, nobody would have gone to “jail” and perhaps they could’ve continued the, uh, dance party. Maybe we should save our righteous indignation for real injustices and respectfully hash-out our differences over the “minor injustices.”

  20. #20 |  An Experiment | 

    As near as I can tell the cops were all (or mostly) black and the dancers were all white. It would be an interesting experiment to repeat this with black people as the dancers. Different outcome?

  21. #21 |  Brian | 

    Alex: I agree, that the demeanor and approach of the guy taking the video is immediately confrontational and kind of jerk-tastic. That said, as far as I can tell, he is only one of 20 people who were there.

  22. #22 |  Alex | 

    Brian: Yea, but the girl that got arrested was only one of 20 also. I still think arresting her was over the top, but it’s much less clear now than before those videos.

  23. #23 |  Jefferson | 

    Sign me up for next year. I’ll polish my dancing shoes.

  24. #24 |  Ahcuah | 

    Regarding acting like a jerk, or saying stuff that sounds pretty silly (and like cliches) afterwards, if you haven’t been in the situation before, I suspect you all would say something similar, or sound that discombobulated.

    These people were utterly surprised by the reactions of the police, and unless you have extensive experience with this sort of thing, or have carefully considered your actions on what might happen well in advance, you are also likely to grope for good things to do and to say. Don’t forget that the dancers were utterly surprised.

    One can gain experience by role-playing in advance, or by being in such a situation many times, and both will improve one’s reactions to such a confrontation. But there was no reason going into this for the dancer’s to even think they might need better arrest techniques.

    Maybe next time . . .

  25. #25 |  Alex | 

    – “Regarding acting like a jerk, or saying stuff that sounds pretty silly (and like cliches) afterwards, if you haven’t been in the situation before, I suspect you all would say something similar, or sound that discombobulated.”

    From the descriptions I’ve read, these people sound like they’re my age. Late 20’s/early 30’s is well past the time (by at least a decade) to learn to talk to a cop who says “move on.” Also, the cameraman started his Tom Green annoying-as-hell act in the first video, at least 2 minutes before the woman was arrested.

    — “These people were utterly surprised by the reactions of the police, and unless you have extensive experience with this sort of thing, or have carefully considered your actions on what might happen well in advance, you are also likely to grope for good things to do and to say.”

    Well then they should have run this idea by me first. I would have said, “20 people dancing in the TJ Memorial? You might want to run that by a Park Policeman first, because they’re going to break it up as soon as they see it. If you don’t run it by them first, it’d behoove you to be sober or your ass is likely to spend the night in the tank.”

    — “But there was no reason going into this for the dancer’s to even think they might need better arrest techniques.”

    I understand what you’re saying, but it doesn’t appear that she was arrested for dancing and needed to talk her way out. It appears she was told to stop dancing and talked herself into an arrest.

  26. #26 |  Robert | 

    I do think we live in something approximating a police state, but this is the worst imaginable example. That cameraman is long overdue for a beating, and I commend the police for not giving into what must have been an overwhelming urge.

    Why stop with a beating? Obviously the cops should have drawn down on the camera operator and blown him away. He wasn’t showing the proper “respect” for authority, and we can’t have that now, can we? Repeating the word fuck after the cop used it? BAM! Right between the eyes.

    Perhaps now you see the absurdity of your comment.

  27. #27 |  Ahcuah | 

    Alex said:

    From the descriptions I’ve read, these people sound like they’re my age. Late 20’s/early 30’s is well past the time (by at least a decade) to learn to talk to a cop who says “move on.”

    That’s baloney. I bet you’ve never been confronted like that, or very rarely.

    I’m well over 50 and still am sometimes surprised when some cop initiates a confrontation for no reason. Again, unless you have blood as cold as ice, without practicing, you’re unlikely to react the way you think you will. (On a related note, there’s a reason gun-owners practice muscle memory. In those sorts of situations, the brain just doesn’t react the way you want, when you want.)

  28. #28 |  Alex | 

    “That’s baloney. I bet you’ve never been confronted like that, or very rarely.”

    Ok, let’s bet. I was a soldier and lived in the ghetto during college and for a couple years after, so I probably have more experience than most guys my age. Hell, I was held up for the second time last week. But this guy was acting like a snotty brat. There’s a big difference between reacting imperfectly and being a total ass.

    “Why stop with a beating?” blah blah blah

    I said I commend the cops for not beating him. I still think he needs a good beating, and I nominate Greg for the duty.

  29. #29 |  Ahcuah | 

    Alex wrote:

    Ok, let’s bet. I was a soldier and lived in the ghetto during college and for a couple years after, so I probably have more experience than most guys my age.

    Well, I guess you’ve more or less proved my thesis. You’ve had the extraordinary experiences that would probably prepare you for that sort of confrontation. But that experience also demolishes your original contention that any old late-20/early-30s people, who would not have had such an experience, ought to have been properly prepared.

    And the sort of authoritarian, elitist attitude you are displaying here is part of the problem.

  30. #30 |  Alex | 

    “Well, I guess you’ve more or less proved my thesis. You’ve had the extraordinary experiences that would probably prepare you for that sort of confrontation. But that experience also demolishes your original contention that any old late-20/early-30s people, who would not have had such an experience, ought to have been properly prepared.”

    My experiences are far from extraordinay. Either way, that mini-bio was in response to your betting. My point was that this guy was way out of line unless he’s lived his whole life at that compound in Texas. Kill ‘em with kindness is a lesson that can easily be learned under less than extraordinary circumstances. From my experience, people in DC are actually much better than the average because so many people interact daily with people who passionately hold polar opposite views. This attitude goes a long way in explaining why libertarianism isn’t more popular.

    “And the sort of authoritarian, elitist attitude you are displaying here is part of the problem.”

    Part of what problem?

  31. #31 |  Brian | 

    -3, awesome. Thanks.

    All I am saying is, that just because someone is wearing a badge, it doesn’t mean he’s evil. He may have been told by his boss to shoo the dancers away.

    I agree that the woman should not have been arrested — as far as I have heard she was not belligerent or doing anything particularly wrong.

    HOWEVER: I think it is very much fair to criticize the cameraman. He’s a cop, yes, but he’s also a human being. Treat cops with a little bit of human dignity, until they give you a reason not to.

  32. #32 |  Robert | 

    I still think he needs a good beating.

    It looks like the State has turned you into quite a nice little fascist, now go get a badge so you’ll fit in with the rest of the jack booted thugs.

    HOWEVER: I think it is very much fair to criticize the cameraman. He’s a cop, yes, but he’s also a human being. Treat cops with a little bit of human dignity, until they give you a reason not to.

    Jesus, you people are a bunch of pussies. That camera operator was extremely respectful of the officer given the circumstances. Hell, he didn’t even call him any names.

    What about those officers behavior make any of you think that they deserved even the smallest modicum of respect? What, because they can push around a 120 pound girl listening to her iPod? That makes them worthy of some respect? Acting like tough guys threatening to arrest people for “disturbing the peace”? Using profanity, then threatening to remove the next person that uses profanity? That deserves respect? I don’t think so.

    Those cops were chickenshit and I guarantee you that if a group of 20 burly guys had been dancing around they’d have left them alone. Either that or they’d have called in a SWAT team because they were scared.

  33. #33 |  “laws” that don’t actually exist « Free the Jefferson 1! | 

    [...] current legal environment, not subject to the same constraints as the individual in question.  In video of this incident, for example, an officer is recorded using expletives directed at the group, but one individual in [...]

  34. #34 |  Greg N. | 

    Robert,

    It isn’t that Talley was disrespecting the cameraman that made me cringe. It’s that what he was saying was so incredibly lame, and said in such a whiny tone. Go back and listen to when he says, “Don’t touch my property.” Play it a few times in a row, and if you’re not nauseated with embarrassment, you’re a better man than I am.

    THAT SAID…

    It’s ridiculous to say Talley deserves a “beating,” and I certainly wouldn’t volunteer for the job even if he did. The few times I’ve hung out with/near him, I’ve found him to be a good guy, and we share a handful of mutual friends. And, importantly, he’s deeply committed to the cause of freedom. Talley’s problem (and it’s a big one) is that he’s way too Bureaucrashed. He and his cohorts epitomize what I call “Oh, no libertarianism.” “Oh, no libertarianism” is the tendency for libertarians to do really stupid things that make you say, “Oh, no” in response. If you follow libertarianism at all, you probably know what I’m talking about, and you probably have your own examples.

    When the LP nominated Badnarik: “Oh, no.”

    Every LP convention: “Oh, no.”

    Logan Darrow Clements and his Lost Liberty Hotel” (featuring the “Just Desserts Cafe”): “Oh, no.”

    When Hans Hoppe speaks: “Oh, no.”

    You get the picture. But nobody does “oh, no libertarianism” better than Bureaucrash. If those guys are doing something, chances are it’s lame. Check out this video of a couple “crashers” confronting the “Yes Men” pranksters outside of Cato a while back. From the BC website: “… when anyone strays into targeting libertarian groups and ideas it’s going to end up badly for them as long as Bureaucrash is around.” The reality is tragically different. See the nauseatingly unfunny video for yourself: http://bureaucrash.com/node/6091.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the group, that video igives you all you need to know. It’s Bureaucrash in a cringe-inducing nutshell: trying very hard, and consistently coming up well short of a goal that’s not all that great to begin with.

  35. #35 |  Puck | 

    The camera man began addressing the officer very respectfully and even at his most indignant was very non confrontational. Anyone who thinks he ‘deserves a beating’ for his inane remarks is fueling the fire which causes this type of idiocy to continue to happen.
    I also served in the military and grew up in ghetto neighborhoods my entire life. When and if I see a person, policeman or not abusing their power or bullying someone who isn’t able to defend themselves I speak up. Had I been there I would have gone to jail for a lot more than dancing at a memorial. It wasn’t the camera man, but the cops that needed to be smacked up side the head.

  36. #36 |  Alex | 

    (Warning: future statements are based on a single viewing of the videos at 3:30 am because of the cringe-inducing nerdiness.)

    1) On my proposed beating: I think that he must have miraculously avoided beatings in his life that that would’ve kept him from being so socially akward. In my neck of the woods, a good beating at an opportune moment from a parent/sibling/classmate/large-guy-that-hates-smartasses can be a very good thing. So I guess I think he needs a makeup beating, and (ridiculous hypothetical) if he was my friend, I might consider making that investment.

    2) On respecting the cop: I think initially showing the cop some basic human respect is the right thing to do, but I wouldn’t have a problem if the he just completely unloaded on the cop if he knows he’s right. Nobody deserves that ridiculous Tom Green act though. And all that stuff other stuff. Wow. Of all possible approaches, the whiny, annoying, brat is definitely the worst.

    3) I love that “oh, no libertarianism.” Well the phrase, anyway. It’s the reason I just say I’m a country club Republican unless I’m pressed.

    4) I opened that Bureaucrash video in another tab and just clicked over to it and saw (sound was off) some guy in a joker hat and nerd shirt and figured I’d seen enough. Until these videos, I thought that Jon Favreau scene in Swingers was the most embarassing thing possible to watch. Nope, gainfully employed libertarians. How sad.

    5) It’s been a long day. I might respond to whoever calls me a fascist/communist/Nazi tomorrow.

  37. #37 |  Berin Szoka | 

    I was there and I can assure you–whatever Jason’s reaction–we were all quite shocked that the police even cared what we were doing. The whole thing was so harmless (and yes, perhaps dorky) that an arrest seemed unfathomable.

  38. #38 |  Reynold | 

    Sadly though I agree with Greg N. on his major points. Getting up in face of the NPS cops not such a hot idea. Remember, “Anything you say can and will be used against you…” Also, the cops aren’t the only ones on video. Asking for the reason why you can’t do this and asking what the reason the arrest was for should have been the only things said when things took a turn for the worse. The best way to help your friend is to not provoke. That and staying around and prodding the cop for more info prob wasn’t the smartest. If you wanted to stay around and chat among your selfs about what happed then by all means. Just stay away from the cop. At that point they are looking for more info from you to help their case against her and a cop who’s all to cuff happy would gladly arrest again. I agree that the cop was in the wrong but things can easily escalate making him right. That being said……

    I think that you all should hold a silent stand in at the JM. Bring your iPods; this time no dancing! (Listen to a copy of the Constitution) This way they can’t get you for the same thing. Everyone should stand at arms length from one and other and just face TJ himself. Do that say once a week for a few weeks for about 10 minutes or what ever interval seems appropriate. Tell the Washington Post and other media outlets about this! Adding pressure and being smart and you will prevail!!!

  39. #39 |  Michael | 

    Yeah, it’s bullshit, but you all pretty much dropped the ball on the “silent” part of it. Seemed pretty noisy for being midnight at the Jefferson Memorial.

  40. #40 |  Gordon Clason | 

    To post # 14, Hannah: that’s a very good quote, but here’s a better: “Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.”
    -Julius Caesar

  41. #41 |  The Bitch Girls | 

    [...] back to the story of the Jefferson 1. As you can see in the videos, she doesn’t appear to have been causing any kind of problems. Reports online have indicated [...]

  42. #42 |  W. Ian Blanton | 

    Would it kill people to actually _check_ quotes?

    Gordon: Please look at “http://www.snopes.com/quotes/caesar.asp”

    Caesar? NNNope. I’m pretty sure that quote was from Mahatma Ghandi. *rolls eyes* Seriously.

    I’ve been in more than my share of encounter with police, ranging from traffic, to fights, to well, nowadays it would a “terrorist incident” but it wasn’t, and I’ve yet to be arrested onsite for any of them. Gotten a couple of outrageous tickets, yes, but arrested, that takes work.

    There really isn’t enough info on the video for me to really make a call. The annoying guy with the camera was too busy yelling “no! Arrest me!” (I’m paraphrasing :)) and didn’t film a good sense of what was going on, OTHER than that the Park service guys shut you down.

    Did anyone call and let the Parks service know that this was going on? I know, no permit wanted, but just a “hey, we’re showing up, it’s just a group of people, not drunks, and not there to trash the place”?

  43. #43 |  JD | 

    Well, I think it’s pretty obvious that the deal here is that the security guards saw people doing something that was unusual and decided to break it up without really knowing what to do. Then they got annoyed with a bunch of people not listening to them.

    I do think it dumb this other woman got arrested, but she was obviously opposing the security guards/cops (whoever it was) and anytime you do that, you know you’re going to get arrested. People with badges rarely back down.

    People! Quit getting all political about what happened and just look at the common sense (or lack of) it all. These cops may have gone too far by arresting someone, but don’t act like they represent the government. I realize they technically do, but they’re really just guys with authority that got carried away. The answer here is better training of the security guards and for certain people to stop purposefully pushing their buttons.

    Also, the woman that wrote in to CNET to notify them admitted it was a prank and pranks don’t belong in a national memorial.

  44. #44 |  Woog | 

    “Also, the woman that wrote in to CNET to notify them admitted it was a prank and pranks don’t belong in a national memorial.”

    Is there an actual law which was broken by the dancers? Just one law, any law, statements regarding unConstitutional laws as stated by Chief Justice Marshall notwithstanding?

    No?

    Then, apparently, such a “prank” _does_ belong in a national memorial, and anywhere else where it isn’t explicitly forbidden by Constitutionally viable law.

  45. #45 |  a frog | 

    I agree with the comments here. I find the water in this pot to be comfortably warm.

  46. #46 |  Lieutenant 030 | 

    The whole thing is ridiculous; I hope that girl sues the police.
    When we ask these idiots why they’re harrassing us we aren’t questioning authority we’re questioning idiots. We’re asking them if they’re really fit to do the job they are supposed to be doing; ie preventing crime; not eating donuts and making up pretend laws.
    Is it any wonder than the rest of the world thinks the US is a backward violent bullying nation?

Leave a Reply