Chicago Cops Vacation in Pittsburgh, Snap Souvenier Photo

Monday, October 19th, 2009

In my column on the police crackdown at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, I noted that one video circulating around the Internet showed a police unit of about 20 officers decked out in paramilitary garb parading around what appears to be a handcuffed protester. The kid is then propped up in front of the cops, who then pose with him while another cop snaps a photo.

 

We now know the police unit was from Chicago. They’d taken vacation time to provide freelance security, paid for by the city of Pittsburgh. The protester is Kyle Kramer, who was charged with failure to disperse and disorderly conduct, although he says he has yet to be formally notified of the charges. Like many of those arrested, Kramer appears to have been observing, not rioting. Excerpts from his interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Shortly after being arrested at the intersection of Fifth and Tennyson avenues around 11:20 p.m. on Sept. 25, Mr. Kramer, an English and writing major who hopes to become a journalist one day, was asked by one officer what he was majoring in.

When he told them, he said “They laughed and someone joked, ‘We’re going to give you plenty to write about tonight.’”…

“Things were happening so fast, and I didn’t know how I was going to be treated. The atmosphere was edgy, ominous, a little spooky and pretty interesting.”

There was a “weird rapport” between him and his arresting officer, “a big dude. He was kind of up and down, angry and then friendly.” When the officer told him to pose for the photo, he said, “I kind of gave him a little bit of an argument, but I told him I would be in the picture. It’s kind of hard to say how they would have reacted if I had said no.” Indeed, he said, “the only time I was really mad was when I was made to kneel like that. That made me mad. It was kind of a natural response, I guess.” At one point, he found himself discussing Chicago jazz clubs with the officer. “I figured if you can have some friendly conversation it’s a lot less likely you’ll be charged with anything extra,” although when he asked for the police officers’ names, he said, they laughed.

Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said he had no intention of looking into the video, explaining he had “more important things” to investigate. He added that the photo could merely have been “the Chicago PD’s way of documenting the fact that they effected this arrest.”

Chicago Police Chief Jody Weiss appears more concerned. Last week, he announced that his department’s internal affairs division would investigate the incident.

 

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21 Responses to “Chicago Cops Vacation in Pittsburgh, Snap Souvenier Photo”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    I know this was the city of Pittsburgh, but I feel these actions will become more common under homeland security. with federal grants and incentives, police officers and firefighters are learning how to tap into this money- during hurricane season, firefighters around here are fighting with each other over who gets to go to the disaster to collect the fema checks. cops and firefighters take vacation, personal, and sick time to tap into this money. I can foresee the feds seeing local depts as being ‘obligated’ to do as ordered. this is all horrible precedence. we’re seeing federalism in action…

  2. #2 |  Booger | 

    I think he was charged with failure to “disperse,” unless the cops were mad because he wasn’t paying them fast enough.

  3. #3 |  Radley Balko | 

    Fixed. Thanks.

  4. #4 |  Zargon | 

    Oh good, there will be an internal investigation. Now I can go back to watching Survivor, confident in the knowledge that justice will be served.

  5. #5 |  Cynical in CA | 

    “There was a “weird rapport” between him and his arresting officer, “a big dude. He was kind of up and down, angry and then friendly.” When the officer told him to pose for the photo, he said, “I kind of gave him a little bit of an argument, but I told him I would be in the picture. It’s kind of hard to say how they would have reacted if I had said no.” Indeed, he said, “the only time I was really mad was when I was made to kneel like that.”

    The shape of things to come …

    http://history1900s.about.com/library/holocaust/bleinsatz5.htm

  6. #6 |  Mattocracy | 

    I’m not sure how to feel about this. This guy engaged the cops in polite discussion…and didn’t get mad about his bullshit arrest until he was made to kneel for a photo? I guess I don’t really know how I would have reacted in that situation. But the most fucked up thing was how the cops were just about as laid back as they could be. Like they had just bagged an 8 pointer.

  7. #7 |  Steve Verdon | 

    I had to tell my 11 year old son a few days ago that the police are not his friends. That they are not to be trusted. That he is not to talk to them, save to tell them he wants his parents.

  8. #8 |  CHRISC | 

    And I think it’s… yes!! Why that’s Joe Arpaio directing them in the pink shirt. Hey, way to go Joe. Now let’s punish the heck out of the guy before he’s even convicted of something, like they do in your jail! Why didn’t you issue your normal press release, really Joe, such modesty!!

  9. #9 |  Lucy | 

    So, it was just as vile as it looked. And their superior cares back home in Chicago, but here in Pittsburgh we just have more important things to worry about. The mayor’s coming to my school on Wednesday, I’m going to tell him to get a new police chief.

    Also, Radley, important point, I did not see one instance of “rioting” that night, except for what the cops did. Please don’t even use that word, because it’s just one more way for people to be “fair” and say, “see, those poor bystanders should be freed, but those dirty protesters!” Failure to disperse is not a riot. Nothing was broken all of Friday. You know this, of course.

  10. #10 |  Zargon | 

    This guy engaged the cops in polite discussion…and didn’t get mad about his bullshit arrest until he was made to kneel for a photo?

    Well to be fair, there’s two ways his thought processes could have led him to that behavior. It could have been him thinking that it’s okay for the police to arrest anyone they want, or it could have been a defense mechanism to avoid being further harassed/kidnapped/injured/killed.

    Given the interview, I think it was a little from column A, and a little from column B.

    If some guy who knows he could beat me within an inch of my life in broad daylight has got me handcuffed, I think the orders will need to be a lot more severe than “get in this humiliating photo” before I’d risk my teeth to protest.

  11. #11 |  Doctor | 

    There’s still a lot of idiots cheering:

    http://law-chronicles.blogspot.com/2009/10/come-for-protests-stay-for-tear-gas.html

    “The Pittsburgh PD has been dealing with the usual unwashed protesters at the G20. I came across some videos on the net and was impressed. It’s obvious that people are doing their best to post some negative footage of the way police handled it. Too bad all they can find is a well-equipped, professional crowd control team taking care of business in a very organized manner.”

    Some people just fail to live in the same reality as the rest of us.

  12. #12 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    #4 | Zargon | October 19th, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Oh good, there will be an internal investigation. Now I can go back to watching Survivor, confident in the knowledge that justice will be served.

    And not only that, but that all department policies and directives have been observed.

  13. #13 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Chicago Police Chief Jody Weiss appears more concerned. Last week, he announced that his department’s internal affairs division would investigate the incident.

    Boy, are they screwed now!

    Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said he had no intention of looking into the video, explaining he had “more important things” to investigate.

    That’s why God created lawsuits…

  14. #14 |  Whim | 

    Too bad the American citizenry lacks the same basic rights as awarded to prisoners of war by the Geneva and Hague Conventions.

    Under the Geneva Convention, it is unlawful to display or pose prisoners in a manner that is intended to humiliate or degrade the prisoner……

    Abu Graib comes to mind. Along with this Pittsburgh G20 police photo-op.

    Next, let’s see if we can get police departments to adhere to the same restrictions on intentionally exploding and mushrooming hollow-point small-arms ammunition restrictions as the Hague and Geneva Conventions……

  15. #15 |  Gull | 

    Well, I’m anxiously awaiting the Chicago PD to clear the officers of all charges.

    Whim, Let’s not compare this to Abu Ghraib. Not saying that the police didn’t fuck up and degrade the guy, but there is really no comparison between this and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Abu_Ghraib_53.jpg (not work safe)

  16. #16 |  William | 

    Chicago Police Chief Jody Weiss appears more concerned. Last week, he announced that his department’s internal affairs division would investigate the incident.

    Jody Weis would be the guy who worked for the FBI for 22 years before investigating Mayor Daley, quitting the FBI, and being hired to be Police Commissioner, despite the fact that this is not how Commissioners are usually hired and that he had little major supervisory experience, at a salary more than double the previous person who held that office. Yeah, real comforting that is.

  17. #17 |  William | 

    Sorry, take that back, it wasn’t over twice, it was only a raise of about $144,000.00 from the last Commissioner’s salary.

  18. #18 |  Smart Shoppers Find Chicago Event Tickets Online « valuetips | 

    [...] The Agitator » Blog Archive » Chicago Cops Vacation in Pittsburgh … [...]

  19. #19 |  Pablo | 

    In related news, Georgia police follies continue–cop in Lithonia, GA exposed himself to a female while on duty, then lied about it and was allowed to resign rather than face criminal charges. He went to another job as a cop, with predictable results. And police wonder why we trust them less and less.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/jailed-cop-had-history-166511.html

  20. #20 |  John C | 

    Saw this over at secondcitycop a couple days ago. to say he was not happy about it would be an understatement…

    We’ve been taking a lot of heat in the comment sections yesterday for our stance on the G-20 people. We’ve been misquoted, called names, challenged, etc. And people are still trying to defend the actions of a few idiots.

    We assume the supervisors on the scene passed a promotional test at some point. Or at least a part of promotional test seeing as how “merit” pretty much skews Part 2 of any test. And we know from our own experience that the order on Processing Persons Under Departmental Control has been a large part of a few exams we’ve taken. This is indefensible. We have yet to see even a tiny argument that makes any sort of sense.

    * Policy to take photos of a prisoner? In a controlled environment for booking and ID purposes. This wasn’t that.
    * Mass arrest? Of one person? You’ve got to be joking.
    * The prisoner was a willing participant? Try running that one by the Supreme Court. You’ve already restricted his movement, you think the Court is going to say he had any sort of freedom at all? Not likely.
    * No time on the job hair-gels did it all? Not even close.
    * You never did anything stupid so you must be a pussy copper? We never denied doing anything stupid – but we were wise enough to not take pictures of it and smart enough to learn from others’ mistakes. Who doesn’t know about cameras everywhere? Especially in a strange city?
    * If everyone keeps their mouth shut, they’ll never find out? Two shifts of coppers, in a known intersection, with an actual arrest that has some one’s name on the report somewhere? Stevie Wonder could pick that platoon out.

    Yeah, we joke about throwing the cuffs on some jagoff and tossing them in the car and taking them to the station. It’s routine. But do you ever stop to realize the awesome power we’ve been granted by the state? We can remove someone from the streets and completely deny them the freedoms granted them by the Constitution of the United States. Call it what you want, but that is a power not granted out of hand to just anyone. That is why there are Rules, Regulations, General Orders of all stripes, Legal Bulletins and everything else. The system was built to be completely at odds with the monarchy of the day.

    Most of the people who show up at these G-20 summits are anarchists, protesters, grievance-mongers of all stripes. They all have cameras (which are better than anything the Department fields), they all have agendas (with media machines to maximize exposure) and they are all trained to provoke a reaction for publicity and lawsuits (which is likely what this was).

    So while our post was written out of anger, disgust and frustration with the actions of a few, we’ll stand by the message – stop doing stupid shit and making it that much harder on the vast majority of us trying to make a living in what was once a respectable profession.

  21. #21 |  “Billy club to the fucking skull.” | The Agitator | 

    [...] Back in 2009, Chicago PD sent a bunch of cops to Pittsburgh to help out with security at the G20 summit. While they’re, the got themselves a souvenir by arresting a kid, charging him with BS crimes, then forcing him to pose with them for a trophy photo. [...]

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