Though he is adored as a minor deity in the degenerate world of pop culture, when confronted by a member of the State’s punitive priesthood Justin Bieber is just another Mundane. This explains how the alleged singer has found himself charged with the supposed crime of “resisting arrest without violence.”
Bieber, who was reportedly drunk and uncooperative when stopped by a police officer, attempted to pull his arm away when the cop tried to take him into custody. Because of this reflex action (a healthy and predictable response to being grabbed by an armed and aggressive stranger) Bieber was hit with a charge that is remarkably commonplace in Florida.
Despite the fact that the charge is a logical anomaly, there is nothing unusual about people being arrested for resisting arrest (which is not a legitimate crime, but a long-recognized common law right). Many police officers treat filing a charge of resisting and obstructing as simply part of a well-established ritual – somewhat akin to kicking an extra point following a touchdown.
In 2006, Orlando ABC affiliate WTFV investigated more than 4,000 arrests in which the only charge was “resisting arrest.” That study documented that “prosecutors are rarely forced to prove the cases they pursue, [and] 94 percent of the time the suspects [in the cases studied] pled guilty or no contest right away.”
According to Orlando defense attorney David Bigney, it’s rare to see a case in which a resisting charge wasn’t filed.
“All these people want to know is why, what’s going on here, but the officer decides I’m just going to arrest you,” Bigney pointed out. Once they find themselves caught in the coils of the “justice” system, the victims just want “fast way out. They can’t afford a lawyer or they just want to get it over with, not realizing they potentially have a defense to the charges.”
Pressed to defend the practice of arresting people for resisting arrest Orlando Police Chief Mike McCoy regurgitated the familiar rationale that this is necessary to protect that most precious of all things – shall we say it together? — “officer safety.”
“The street’s not the place to dispute it, the courts are,” McCoy continued, offering a dim but unmistakable echo of the hideous advice once offered to rape victims (“Don’t resist – it will just make things worse”). As noted above, it is all but impossible for a Mundane living in Florida to mount a successful defense against a spurious charge of resisting arrest.
For decades, courts and police departments have insisted that an unjustified arrest is a trivial imposition.
“The law … calls upon citizens to exercise patience, if illegally arrested, because he knows he will be brought before a magistrate, and will, if improperly arrested, suffer only a temporary deprivation of his liberty,” proclaimed a 1966 ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court. Even a “temporary” abduction is a grievous crime, and a single unjustified arrest is sufficient to destroy the victim’s career prospects and social standing. Resisting arrest is dangerous, but submission can leave the victim vulnerable to sexual assault, torture, and death at the hands of people who are clothed in “qualified immunity.”
Most judicial rulings dealing with the right to resist arrest piously instruct the victim of unlawful police violence to eschew “violent self-help.” Florida’s statute is uncommonly perverse in that allows police to criminalize passive non-cooperation, or even desperate acts of non-violent “self-help” by terrified citizens on the receiving end of criminal violence by uniformed aggressors.
Miami resident Gilberto Matamoros was charged with “disorderly conduct” and “resisting arrest without violence” after two officers unaccountably picked him out of a crowd and began beating him without cause during a 2010 Halloween celebration. A video of the incident showed the officers repeatedly striking him in the head – a lethal force technique that qualifies as attempted murder – as the victim cowered and attempted to ward off the attack.
After being rendered unconscious, Matamoros had to be hospitalized.
The disorderly conduct charge was quickly dropped. However, prosecutors refused to dispose of the “resisting without violence” charge until several months later, thereby forcing he victim to pay and thousands of dollars in legal fees. Matamoros’s attorney, Ricardo Martinez-Cid, pointed out that his client’s supposed crime was to cover his head, rather than passively allowing the assailants to kill him.
Significantly, the behavior for which Matamoros was prosecuted in Orange County, Florida wasn’t much different from that of the late Kelly Thomas, who was murdered on the street by police officers in Orange County, California.
The killers of Kelly Thomas successfully argued in court that the victim’s pathetic attempts at non-violent self-protection justified the use of lethal force to subdue him. This enrichment of the lethal impunity enjoyed by state-licensed aggressors in California will not be lost on their comrades on the other side of the continent – and everywhere in between.
Reprinted with permission from LRC.