Cop vs. Skateboarders

And here’s a news article to go with the clip:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A police officer who appears to choke a skateboarder and put two others in a headlock in a video posted online has been put on administrative leave while police investigate, officials said.

Hot Springs Mayor Mike Bush said Tuesday that investigators have talked with witnesses who saw the officer, Joey Williams, stop the skateboarders on a downtown city sidewalk last Thursday. Skateboarding is banned in the area.

The video shows Williams apparently choking one of the skateboarders after forcing him to the ground, then later chasing and wrestling two others while holding them in a headlock.

“Unfortunately, the video shows it pretty good,” Bush said.

Bush said he won’t be sure of the city’s next step until the investigation is complete. The video, taken by Matthew Jon McCormack and another unidentified skater, was posted Monday on YouTube, a popular Internet site.

(via Metafilter)

36 Comments

  1. I’ve been skateboarding since I was a young kid (I’m in my 20s now), and I’ve seen situations like this arise all too often. There is absolutely no need to resort to violence and a vulgar display of power when dealing with kids just trying to have fun. Most skateboards (at least the ones I know) are very respectful of others, and if told *in a civil manner* to skate elsewhere, be it for private property or whatnot, will usually comply. Unfortunately, people seem never to exhibit a general sense of civility toward fellow man, let alone kids that are this young.

    What this police officer did was more than just cause a public scene, and possibly ensure the loss of his job (one can only hope). He deepened the stereotypes skateboarders are often type casted into. On one side, your average joe-schmo viewing this incident saw a bunch of punk kids getting arrested for skateboarding, an activity that carries more stigma that drug use it would seem. At one point you can ever hear some middle-aged woman berating the kids for wanting to run (why they didn’t was most likely a sense of camaraderie, something you don’t see much of anymore). On the other hand, the police officer has now deepened the already existing rift between these relatively young kids and law enforcement. Yes, there are good cops and fuckstick cops (this one obviously falling into the latter category), but this proves to the kids and any empathic bystanders that these police officers can do whatever they like.

    Worse of all however, it shows how unprotected we are from a rampant police officer. In that situation I probably would have been arrested for assault, as I would have done my best to beat the officer off my friends, despite knowing the consequences. If we cannot protect ourselves from those sworn to protect us, who will?

  2. The problem with this video is that they don’t show the situation before they kids began to be choked. Because I’m a news editor for my college paper, I tend to not trust something shown to me or told to me unless I hear all sides of the story. This does not mean that I think the officer’s actions were right or appropriate. In fact, they were idiotic. But maybe the kids were being little shits and were told to leave and the officer freaked out. He should have asked for backup if the situation was out of hand. Really though, it’s skateboarding, not rampant heroine users shooting up in the streets.

  3. I hate skateboarders. I came out of a pizza shop holding a pizza one day two years ago when some 17-year-old skateboarder comes flying down the sidewalk, completely out of control and out of place for a cramped mini-mall, crashes into my arm, knocks the pizza out of my hands (where it plopped messily on the ground), and then tried to run.

    Fortunately, and rather amusingly, an infuriated 50-yead-old woman was just in front of him and when he tried to run she whacked him with her purse, and, being already off-balance, he collapsed in a heap on the ground.

    Which is where he was when I knelt on him and told him he was giving me either 20 bucks for a new pizza.

  4. I used to skate religiously back in the day. It’s sad but true that the cops would prefer to harass you on a skateboard rather than go catch a real criminal.

    True that some kids can be irritating little shits on them, I was one during my early teen years, but that still doesn’t excuse the police from the harassment they give. It’s one thing to be told to leave a spot you’re skating, and when owners of parking lots or sidewalks we were skating would ask us to leave, we would do so immediately. It’s something else when the cops show up and tackle and choke you.

    It happened to me and my friends back in the day. Sometimes we would just be skating down the street and if a cop saw us, he would hit the lights on the car and make us lie down face first, acting like we were the worst criminals ever, when we had done nothing wrong. We would get our boards taken, never to be seen again.

    Something about wild looking kids on skateboards brings out the animal in police officers. I liken it to predatory instincts in some breeds of dogs, who will attack small children because the sound and motion triggers the response.

    I hope the cop is let go from the police force. I had to put up with too much of that crap as a kid.

  5. First off, these kids ain’t wally and the beav skating to school. They cause a lot of property damage, since they will skate on anything that they think will support their weight. If any damage IS done, the skateboarders tend to skate away.
    Also, if you’re an elderly woman trying to walk to the bank, or walk your dog, skateboarders can be a little more than hasardous. When they travel in gangs, as these kids were, they can be terrifying.
    It doesn’t matter what a skateboarders INTENTION is, it’s the qualifiable effect of what they end up doing.
    It’s a good idea not to trust the video that edited out what brought on the battle, in fact, anyone who does is pretty much of an idiot to begin with.
    Bottom line is, when a cop on foot asks you to stop, you stop. You don’t run away, have your friends circling and taunting him, or take swings at him.
    If you do, the cop has the right to take you to the ground. He’s not required to argue with you until you decide it’s okay.
    Don’t confront the police on the street. If you have a problem with how they’re doing their job, take the matter to court afterwards.
    The matter APPEARED to be not so much the skateboarding, but the kids surrounding and harrassing the officer.
    When a cop starts with you, just go with the flow. Fighting a cop is generally a stupid, trailer trash, game. Those kids were acting like predatory hyenas.
    I suspect those kids have extremely shitty parents.

  6. One followup…

    To the kids who have problems with the police who are enforcing a community law, grow a brain, if you can, and go to your city council and complain.

    Complain to those who made the law, don’t take your battle to those paid by all of us to enforce the law.

    You’ll get nowhere, and it’s just stupid.

    If you want to initiate civil disobedience, that’s fine, but playing games just because you think you can, and harassing police is bullshit.

    Again, the parents of that kid, and especially the girl, are qualified trailer trash.

  7. I’ve been a skateboarder for more than half my life… 17 years now. I put in at least ten hours a week at my local park and teach classes to younger kids on the weekend at times during the summer. One of the first things I teach the kids is that a skate park is a hassle-free skating area, but if they want to street skate, they need to understand that not everyone understands or agrees with what they’re doing. If you play baseball in a parking lot, someone is going to call the cops, so I tell them to use good judgement before they start skating on a mini-mall sidewalk.

    What most skaters need to realize is that young assholes who happen to skateboard have given us a bad stereotype so they need to keep their cool and cooperate when possible. What everyone else needs to realize is that not all stereotypes are true, but they’re constantly reinforced in the media with a message of, “See!? We were right all along!” Old people are shitty drivers. Politicians are liars. All Asians know martial arts. If you don’t believe in God, you’re a Satan worshipper. If you’re white, you’re racist… only white people can be racist. If you listen to punk music, you’re an anarchist and hate America. Heavy metal and video games are the cause of all teen violence. If you skateboard, you’re just waiting to vandalize something or break into a car.

    This cop overreacted because he was in a public place and was being challenged by a bunch of kids. Resisting arrest? Fuck him! He was humiliated and had to teach them a lesson.

    Lastly… fuck everyone else. Nobody else did shit because they were a bunch of skateboarding kids. If the cop tackled some guy for letting his dog crap on the sidewalk (something against city ordinances) do you honestly think everyone would have just gawked as they passed by?

  8. Furnace: Honestly, yes I believe everybody would still have just stood there if it was a guy with a dog.

    I understand where you are coming from, given my past with skating. People view us as criminals and always will. Nothing you can say is going to change that stereotype, it’s too far ingrained in the public consciousness.

    Just look at the comments on this board for example. Calling the girls parents trash after seeing a short clip. Pure stereotyping. Being mad because one kid knocked a pizza out of your hands and blaming all skaters. Stereotyping.

    This site (cynical-c) has some of the coolest people anywhere, but the stereotype is still present even here…

  9. I went to high school in Hot Springs and back in my time this sort of thing probably wouldn’t have happened. What we don’t know in this situation is what type of relationship the skateboarders and cops have had. Yes, this cop took things too far. That much is clear. But, historically and in personal experience, the cops in this town do a pretty good job keeping things calm and fair. I have to add here that I went to a residential state school… meaning right down the block are 300 kids with no parental oversight. We were terrible and treated most of Hot Springs as our personal playground. And I went to school with Chief Southard’s daughter as well… so yeah please be civil – he’s a nice guy and he will hear you out.

  10. Oh yeah, and the likely reason that no one stepped in is that this is a HUGE tourist town. Most of those people in the background are tourists who are not going to get involved in a “local” situation.

  11. Furnace: Well put. It’s good to see a fellow skater representing our type with a sound mind and logical thinking.

    Dylan Andrews: Leave your ignorant bullshit elsewhere please. Unless you can somehow prove to us that that young girl was somehow trailer trash (maybe because you feel that all AK residents are southern trash) please leave your unwanted and completely unproductive comments to yourself. Or go post on SA or wherever.

  12. The problem with cops is, for every Andy Taylor, there are at least a dozen Barney Fifes.

    I don’t know what happened prior to the footage, but a good cop could in all likelihood have talked those kids off the sidewalk with no hard feelings on either side. Instead, this peckerwood is just going “Respect mah authority!” Pathetic. I sincerely hope he’ll lose his job.

    Got no sympathy for the kids though. You don’t fucking ARGUE with a cop. And you absolutely positively never ever argue with one that seems to have poor social and communication skills, and an attitude.

  13. Nobody else did shit because they were a bunch of skateboarding kids.

    I concur with Trance220 – it wouldn’t matter who was getting shitkicked by the cop, people don’t get involved in that kind of thing. Not least for the same reason those kids would have been wise to shut up, and wiser still not to try to run – because if you challenge a cop you’re asking for trouble. Especially if the cop’s that kind of cop.

  14. That clip is edited. Right after one of the kids says “sounds pretty fair” with 1:20ish left on the clock, there’s a cut.

  15. Who are you people?

    “never challenge a cop”. “never argue with police”. “they would have been wise to be silent.”

    NO!

    Always, always, always challenge authority. Cops are “citizens on patrol”. That does not give them any “power” over you as another citizen. You have the right to question them, you also have the right to be silent, but when a situation is so clearly fucked up as this, and you just stand there and take it because it’s a Cop is exactly the baffling mindset that prompted Milgram to do his experiments.

  16. Who are you people?

    Always, always, always challenge authority. Cops are “citizens on patrol”. That does not give them any “power” over you as another citizen.

    Who are you? Are you a cop? Do you know a lot of cops? Have you had a lot of experience with cops? Who are you? Please — do tell us!

    Challenging authority is wonderful — if that’s your mindset, good for you. I’m totally with you on that one — as long as you’re talking about an intelligent challenge, like filing a complaint, or hell, a lawsuit. If you think it is a good way to challenge authority by mouthing off to a cop — gimme a break…

    But most of all, cops are NOT citizens on patrol. Cops are officers of the law, and their orders have to be followed by citizens. If your boss gives you an order, and you refuse to follow it, you can get fired. If you’re a soldier, and refuse to follow an order, you risk a court-martial. If you refuse to follow a command given by a cop, you risk getting arrested.

    This has FUCK ALL to do with the Milgram experiments.

    Please, challenge authority — please, by all means do so. But do it intelligently.

    I’ve made cops back off simply by staying calm, and polite — and looking at their badge numbers. You need to be smart to be a good cop — but you need to be smart to be a good citizen. Wise up. Don’t mouth off to a cop.

  17. there’s 2 very obvious cuts about 1:44 and 1:39 mins before the end.
    right when the cop is telling the kid in the red shirt to lie down.

    This is when the camera is on the floor so supposedly no one can actually press the pause or stop button. Most probably a retroactive edit.

    The editing is reminicent of Homocide:Life on the Streets. The image has a few jump-cuts but the soundtrack (which the viewer is focused on) appears seamless.

    Was this for dramatic effect? or did the kids edit out some parts (like them telling off the cop)? only the cop is heard talking.

    Fishy

  18. To those asking for qualification of my assertion that the girl, and her parents, are trash, just watch the video again.

    Physically and verbally confronting a police officer who is simply trying to do his job, is trailer trash 101.

    Police aren’t “citizens with badges,” they are agents of the state, employed to enforce state and local law.

    If you don’t like the law, organize your skateboard friends to confront your city council at a public meeting.

    Otherwise, don’t skate in town, and if you do and are detained by a police officer, don’t be a trailer trash douchebag. Like that girl.

    Note toe the girls parents:
    If you don’t want kids, and don’t want to raise them, don’t have them in the first place.
    Don’t make society have to deal with your thoughtless mistakes.

  19. From the attitudes displayed by the kids on this tape, edited or not, I’d be willing to bet they have general disdain for pretty much anyone in authority. Just the fact that they were skateboarding in an area where common sense and consideration for others would dictate that it wasn’t a good place to ride indicates that, where they’re concerned,laws and rules don’t apply. I’d also be willing to bet the area was probably posted intermittently as “No skateboarding allowed”. I’m the mother of four and grandmother of ten and you can be sure they’d have a lot of explaining to do about this incident if they were mine. As a sidebar, I do agree with those who believe the officer lost his cool and overreacted.

  20. dude its go skateboarding day were just doing what we love whats the problem with that it’s a sport why should we get tickets , or arrested i dont see swimmers or golfers getting arrested for playing there sport!! so why does every body judge us ??? if there so mad at us and hate us so much well i like to see them flip a board with there feet!!!!

    kburd
    13 years old wow im 13 and thats just messed up!!!

  21. i thing tat cops are only trying to have a good time and to show that they have some power buy taking out some sk8ers and that the popo can get away with it most times. i personaly dont agree thatt cops can just walk in and act as the are a somebody and arrest theys kids for doing what they injoy doing.We should make a union of sk8ers and get this shit strate! with the cops. I also thing that cops judge us as kids that smoke pot and party all the time..another word for it is little punkes….but it is true there are alot of sk8ers that do that but so dose every one else.at the same time to there are alot of good kids out there that injoy sk8ing and actualy make it a goal to go pro and have a futer with it but how can some one do this if they ar getting arested for boarding around town with there friends?????? some one plz tell me this!

  22. ive had my fair run in with the cops but its not been anything like that, even with no skating signs right in front of me. it is a sport and they werent tearing anything up. and you can clearly hear the phrase your arresting me for riding a skateboard?! and the cop replys yes… so to the guy calling the kids trailer trash go fuck yourself cause id hit your square in that retarded head of yours prick. go get your mouth filled with cock so you can shut your fucking trailer trash mouth up you kid toucher. SKATEBOARDING IS NOT A CRIME, YOU HATERS KEEP THE SPORT ALIVE! THANKS

  23. Many communities are getting on the ‘band-wagon’ to raise their concerns regarding the property damage caused by skateboarders on railings, sidewalks, benches, and more. The residents and business owners are not just complaining about the damage to their property, but the lack of concern and places for these skateboarders to practice their skills. People want these skateboarders to have their own park with the equipment and ramps they need.
    Even school officials are finding ways to encourage skateboarders with a new program called Skate Pass. The cost for this program is $3,000 per school. This provides the skateboards, helmets, and pads needed for safety. The boards are specially made for gym floors. The program was developed in Colorado by Dave McDonald at Philmore Middle School. Originally he was one of those people discouraged by the amount of damage skateboarders were causing. In hopes to understand the risk he knew students were taking with damaging private property, McDonald visited a skate park. While there he saw many of his own students who were normally withdrawn, quiet, uncooperative, or didn’t do well in class interacting with many other kids. There are now more than 11 states supporting this program including Alaska. This program is now being supported internationally.

    My kids are good kids. The sk8rs they hang with are generally good also. Help support options for them. You’ll see they aren’t so bad, and they will be more respectful when we show our respect for their sport…it is a sport. These kids are talented…

  24. The reason most of us skaters dont go to skateparks are as follows

    1. maybe there isnt one
    2. itmight be a crappy one
    3 the main reason is because we most
    of us are street skaters, who do tricks down stars and stuff like that.
    POWER TO THE SKATERS
    LIVE TO SKATE, SKATE OR DIE!

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