Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cop Stories

Seconds after putting up this sign I turned and saw two SFPD walking onto the overpass, about thirty feet away. I was, as they say, "totally busted". I stood there, smiled, and waited for them to reach me. "You see any kids up here?" one of them asked. "Uh, no."
"We got a call that said there were kids throwing rocks off here."

"No. Haven't seen any."

There was a pregnant pause and then he asked. "What does the sign say?" So I told him: "2,974 Arms... 3,244 Legs... 1,672 Lives." He thought about this for a second and then said "Probably be a whole lot more too." And that was it. He said something about letting them know if I saw any kids throwing rocks and then they just left. No asking for ID, no warnings, lectures... nothing.

I was sure they were just being polite and letting me go before they took down the sign, but some ten minutes later, when I got this picture, it was still there. In fact, it was still up two days later.

That was my most amiable run-in with the cops. The worst was a month or two later when a guy in a black unmarked car caught me hanging "The War is a Lie." over the 280. Right away he came off pretty hard ass, asking for ID and responding to my "any problem?" with a stern but not quite threatening litany of "What you're doing is illegal...", "We've had numerous complaints," "This is serious," etc. etc. I apologized politely and explained that I considered it my patriotic duty to speak out in this fashion but recognized that reasonable men could differ on this and was willing to defer the matter entirely to his authority. I was as nice as I could possibly be.

He ran my name through the computer and while it came up clean, it resembled one that didn't and if I didn't mind he'd like to take me down to the station and have me printed to make sure I wasn't the other guy. Although it sounded bogus, I wasn't going to make any fuss, so I said sure and he called for a backup to pick me up.

When they arrived they handcuffed me and put me in the back of a windowless police van. I was a little surprised by the handcuffs, but they told me it was standard operating procedure, which pretty much put an end to the discussion.

The ride took about ten minutes. Once at the station I was handcuffed to a bench for a couple minutes, then got printed and released and driven back to my truck by the first cop who’d arrested, or “detained” me. We talked amicably about the war (which he was against,) his job, the freeways, homeland security, free speech and Rosa Parks, whose body was lying in state in the Capitol at the time. He was a nice guy. When he dropped me off his last words were: "You be careful out there hanging those signs..."

In the early days of this project, I hired a lawyer in Santa Cruz who'd represented Amy Courtney and Cassandra Brown in their freeway free speech case (Brown v. California Dept. of Transportation). He assured me that any arrest based soley on the placement of signs would be nullified immediately in court, and that the right to free political speech is one of our most sacred and would trump whatever minor infractions I might be guilty of in its pursuit. If you have questions about this, and you should, I suggest giving a call to your local branch of the ACLU or National Lawyer's Guild and having a chat.

Until we have a definitive Day in Court, we're still operating in something of a gray area. If you're stopped by police, be as polite and cooperative as you can possibly be. It's probably just a matter of time before one of us gets arrested for this, and when that happens it's important the arrest be made solely for sign-hanging, not "disorderly conduct", "refusal to comply with a lawful order" (take down the sign if they ask you to...) or "public intoxication" (Try not to be wasted.) Explain that you felt your actions were protected by the first amendment and that you were simply doing what you considered to be your duty as a citizen. Apologize even if you don't mean it.

The gravest danger we face is not from cops but from angry partisans. These are people who've been fed years of Limbaugh, Coulter & Hannity and been brainwashed into thinking that you and everybody who thinks like you is trying to destroy America: try to avoid them. Remember: you pick the time, you pick the place. If a spot seems iffy, don’t do it. You’ve got miles and miles of prospective sites to choose from.

Of course, operating in California gives me something of an advantage. I’m sure the cops aren’t quite so easygoing in Dallas or Hazzard County, but that’s on the street. In the courts, no citizen should be punished for speaking out politically to their fellow citizens. At least not here in America. At least not yet.

To those of you who’d like to post signs but are afraid of being caught, arrested or hassled by cops, take a little time to think about the people in other countries who actually are putting their lives on the line when they speak out against their governments. Think about them and what they might say about keeping silent in a place where it’s still legal to speak.


Roxy the school police watch dog said...

I do not agree with one word you say about the war. But you have every right to say or hang whatever you want as long as it is not dirty words. (you know like fuck, shit ect.) Because of the children of course. We protect them from bad words but let the sex offenders have their way with them. Sorry got off on another subject. But like I said I don't agree with you, But you are doing a great job of getting your word out. Maybe you should be the DNC chairman/woman. I mean really what has DEAN done?

Anyway keep up the good work.
Maybe the election will be closer this time. Because I hate it when Republicans win by 9:00.

Roxy the school police watch dog said...

Sorry I missed that brainwashing line again. I can't believe you think Rush is that smart that he can brainwash someone. I thought republicans are dumb. This is really giving Rush to much credit. Wouldn't it be smarter to say people you listen to Rush are dumb just like Rush.

Just one Republican trying to reach across party lines to help a great Democrat.

RandyScott said...

Rush doesn't have to be smart to participate in brain-washing. All he has to do is keep repeating whatever talking points he gets in his GOP email list.

That's what those so-called "think tanks" are for. They read psychological research papers and use that info to create propaganda blurb - same thing the CIA has been doing to learn how to conduct psychological torture - same thing that ad agencies have been doing for decades to create advertisments.

Frankly, I don't think Rush is very intelligent, either; but that doesn't mean he isn't perfectly competant at making up stories and telling lies. Ask a District Attorney about the kind of guys who run con games - there's a certain "cleverness" involved that doesn't reguire genius.

Freewayblogger said...

It's not so much the content of hate radio as it is the consistancy: twenty years or so of daily demonization of one segment of a society is bound to have an effect on the society as a whole. If I weren't educated to think critically and relied on AM Radio and Cable TV for my information, by now I'd think that liberals were not only the root of all our nation's ills, but the very incarnation of evil itself. Given these conditions, who could blame the American people for trusting their media, or their President, which is why so many of them still believe that Saddam was responsible for the attacks on 9/11. The problem is that the rest of the world isn't privvy to the scope of propaganda we receive here, which makes us look stupid. Of course, a major part of the propaganda relies on discounting world opinion: We're "better" than them.

I have no doubt that the Republicans will win the next election, and every election after that so long as they're the ones counting the votes. The reason I keep fighting in the face of inevitable defeat is because I believe the principles this country was founded on are worth fighting for.

Anonymous said...

I am a cop in Dallas, and I've been looking for good places to post my own signs.


Anonymous said...

I have read this quote in three places in three days: "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."--Joseph Stalin

Roxy the school police watch dog said...

And sense you use brainwashing in that way I guess you would agree that that is why we now have Air America to brainwash Democrats. no Democrats don't do that. That go to T.V the Bias news stations CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN. And then you have the little guy that everyone picks on. The brainwashers of Fox. They haven't been around long , but they do engage in brainwashing. They were the first to say Bush won in 2000, and they were right, but by saying Bush won it brainwashed everyone that heard it including CNN, CBS, NBC and ABC. And then they all woke up from this brainwashing and we created voter fraud had to be. Why did Bush really win because during the recount they counted all of the absentee ballots from the military which 90% always votes Republican. Maybe thats because Democrats have led the military to more wars than Republicans. I don't know maybe I am just brainwashed. Do you all really know how stupid that sound. Maybe the boogie man will come and gett you in the middle of the nite too.

Roxy the school police watch dog said...

3 times sounds like brainwashing

Anonymous said...

I do really know how stupid that sounds. I can't determine if you really are brainwashed, confused or both.

Roxy the school police watch dog said...

Yea I am brainwashed by little green people. You people are so stupid. I suppose you believe everything you hear is true as long as it comes from a Democrat. Democrats don't lie. I never had sex with that woman. or maybe we will just keep the cash in the the freezer. But Duke Cunningham should fry along with Tom Delay. Well I think they all should fry including your lovable little Bill Clinton. Brain washing and global warming to myths that just arn't true. I can't believe you actually think Bush can brainwash millions of people yet you call him a hick.

Stupid is as stupid does. That's stupid.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,
It's funny that you keep framing this as a partisan battle, that somehow you think people that freeway blog must all be Democrats, and that we just wish Bill Clinton would come back. I haven't been a Democrat since 1992 when Clinton got the nomination, and I have no plans of returning. In fact, I have more respect for the Republicans, at least they are assholes right to the Worlds face and make no bones about it, rather than pretending to be touchy feely but hiding the same ruthless foreign policy under the auspices of the IMF, World Bank and UN.

Annie said...

Brainwashed, perhaps. Obsessive-but-not-in-a-good-way? Absolutely. Have you ever noticed that no matter the subject, Republicans manage to bring up the subjects of pedophilia, homosexual sex and rape?

Case in point, Rick & this debate: Couldn't make it past 3 sentences without bringing up pedophilia.


Roxy the school police watch dog said...

You don't want to talk about it. Just ignore it and it will go away.
Give them condoms so atleast they do it safely.

So what's you point?

D said...


Your belligerent, "I'm-right-wing-so-I'm-right-period" attitude speaks volumes about your lack of any actual argument.

Roxy the school police watch dog said...

I never said I was right period.
I just don't believe anyone can be brainwashed, let alone millions of people. And for you to believe it can happen is stupid.

Anne Johnson said...

Rush Limbaugh is a brainwasher of Orwellian proportions and has spawned more of his kind. He has all but shut down reasoned debate in this country by only allowing those who agree with him to call his show.

My uncle lives in the mountains where there's only one clear radio station available. He started listening to Rush Limbaugh in the 1990s, when he was unemployed, too young to get Medicare, and living on $500 per month social security, which he took early so he'd have some income. I just couldn't believe my ears when he started talking about how government is too big and these programs ought to be shut down. He also looked me in the eye and said, "The vast majority of Americans are conservatives."

The man I knew pre-Rush would never have said or even thought that.

No conversation with him since that day has been anything but a one-sided rant on his part. When he says "Rush," it's with a glazed look in his eye, as if he's uttering "God" instead.

Nor is he stupid. He was a white-collar worker, downsized, and used to spend all his time reading books. Until Rush.

One example does not suffice, I know. But at least one person I love has been strongly influenced by Rush Limbaugh, and it has brought a great deal of distance and unhappiness into our relationship.

I support the patriotic project of the Freeway Blogger.

Anonymous said...

Happy Fathers' Day!

Peace and tranquility,


Roxy the school police watch dog said...

Your own story proves my point. Rush would never say that the vast majority of American are Conservatives. That is a democrat talking point. Most Democrats don't no the differance between a conservative and a Republican. I am not a conservative and neither is Rush we are Republicans who are conservative on some issues. So if your uncle was brainwashed he would have said Rush was right 99.6% of the time.

Was your uncle sick or disable is that why he did not go back to work. Maybe he thought it's the peoples job to take care of themselves and not the governments job. You don't want them listening in on your phone calls, but you will gladly take money from them. And then your leaders will tell you they want you to pay more taxes. And like all Democrat you are more than willing to give it to them. But than when It comes to letting Americans invest alittle bit of social security in to a 401K style account we can't do that. MY OWN MONEY. Maybe we can agree that if the government stay out of our pockets we could stay out of the government.

Just an opinion.

Roxy the school police watch dog said...

One more thing: If you let Rush Limbough tear you and someone else apart either you didn't care very much about him or he didn't care about you.

Because I am a Rush listener and my wife is not and I know when to turn the radio off.

See no brainwashing.

Sadie Baker said...


I don't know where you're writing in from, but in America people are allowed to put money into IRAs if they want to, quite generous amounts really.

At the same time, we have a national insurance program called Social Security, which keeps old people from living in the streets like they did in the Great Depression. It has worked so well that people have forgotten why it was put into place.

Naturally, Republicans were opposed to the creation of Social Security and have been trying to dismantle it ever since. Like they used to say back then, "A Republican is someone who can't enjoy a meal unless he knows someone somewhere is going hungry." They haven't changed, they have just gotten much more sophisticated with their PR.

Oh and if it's child molesters you are interested in, you should check out Freeway's list of convicted Republican child molesters. Look it up under "God's Own Pedophiles," it'll curl your hair.

Roxy the school police watch dog said...

Exactly and if I could take my social security into an ira and earn more money why shouldn't I. Social Security was not started as a welfare program. You were supposed to get your money back when you got older. Now you only get what the government wants to give you. That is not anyones money but mine. So as poor people like myself you struggle month to month to make it in this world where does that leave us when we get old. I won't be able to live on 1,000 a month would you. But if I can take just 25% of what I already paid in and let me start a 401K. It's MY MONEY. Is it not?

I don't care whether they are republican or democrat you do that to a child and they should kill you. Don't you agree?

Sadie Baker said...

Ummm, social security was started as a welfare program. Welfare didn't use to be a bad word. It means, "well being," you know? As in, "We the People, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, PROMOTE THE GENERAL WELFARE, etc."

Republicans turned "welfare" into a bad word because they don't beleive in it. They believe in every man for himself and devil take the hindmost. Which is why they want to take OUR Social Security money and give it over to Wall Street.

I don't believe in the death penalty for anybody, but that's a whole 'nother topic. But I would absolutely agree with putting child molesters away for life.

Roxy the school police watch dog said...

See Sadie we not to far off. I would agree if both the Republicans and the Democrats would just leave the money alone that goes into Social Security and stop spending it we wouldn't have to worry because every one that paid in would get their return. But, there is no money in the social security account so the checks each month comes from other programs. So I would really like you to tell me what is wrong with taking 4% of my own social security that I pay in and investing it. It my money now and it will be again when I am 65 or 67 or 72 or 75 whatever the age will be. I just want to understand why you think that is so bad.