Corvallis, OR - YouTuber Tawasi Soce was recently stopped by Corvallis Police and asked to present his identification. In an exceptional display of courage under pressure and knowledge of police procedure, Soce shows his viewers how to handle an unwanted contact with police officers. The entire video serves as in illustration of how to flex your rights as a citizen, and refuse to be unnecessarily stopped, detained, and identified by police.
Soce’s video begins with a Corvallis Police Department officer shining his high-powered flashlight in his face and demanding to see his ID. He refuses on the basis that he’s not committed any crime and asks to know what crime they believe he committed. The officer responded by saying he fits the proverbial “description” of a suspect wanted in connection with the crime of trespassing. He said in a voice which barely rises above a whisper:
You cant just stop me and identify me, there has to be a charge (something criminal he’s believed to be guilty of.”
When pressed to tell him where the trespassing allegedly took place, Soce says he has a right to know where he allegedly trespassed. The officer wasn't willing to reveal the information leading many viewers to question whether or not the cop was simply making up a crime in order to stop the pedestrian from continuing on his way. The officer called for backup saying he had a “code 1”.
Demonstrating his knowledge of the police codebook, Soce corrected the officer and stated:
This is a code 4, not a code 1. Everybody’s safe. You’re the only person who’s armed.
According to the Oregon police scanner codes, Code 1 implies there is a situation and requests an officer for backup. Code 4 implies the situation is under control and there is no need for backup.
The two proceeded to banter, playing the game of semantics police often use to find probable cause to lay hands on someone and forcibly identify their presumed suspect. Such stop and frisks often lead to the knowledge someone may have a warrant for their arrest. All too often, however, it also ensnares entirely innocent people and treats them like criminals. If the citizen complies officers can then use any information they obtained and legally arrest such a person and place them in jail, even if the person has committed no crime. But if the officer(s) is unsuccessful in ascertaining someone’s ID, then the person is free to go on their way.
Soce maintained his right to freely travel without having to be stopped and asked to identify himself. He contended had not committed any crime, was not committing any crime at the time the officer approached him and wished to go on his way. After asking if he could proceed on his way he was told by an unidentified officer he was the subject of an investigation and was not allowed to leave. Soce then demanded:
Okay. I need to talk to your sergeant.
That’s the point in the video where he says the tide of the alleged unreasonable stop shifted in the citizen’s favor. The officer supposedly radioed for his superior to arrive on scene, but later told Soce he was too far away. The two officers on scene continued to attempt to force the man to identify himself but Soce stuck to his guns, saying:
I'm not answering any questions. I just am trying to go buy some water and I'm being unreasonably detained and interrogated.
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The sentiment is shared by many folks who do not feel they need the permission of police to travel freely and often respond with defiance when asked to comply with arbitrary color of law dictates they feel they have no obligation to obey.
Exercising his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself (such as revealing his identity which may lead to civil or criminal penalties) he said:
I'm not answering any more questions without a lawyer present.
The verbal sparring continued to a critical point at which point Soce began to question the officers' motives. He asked them why they chose him out of all the "dozens" of other passersby. He insisted he did not have to "prove to them" he was not the alleged suspect, Michael Brooks they were searching for—and he's right. In America, people are innocent until proven guilty—not the other way around.
I feel like you are discriminating against me...I feel totally violated right now...I understand you have a certain amount of fascist training [that you must take]...but I don’t have to prove to you that I’m not a person [Michael Brooks].
That’s when Soce called the officers’ bluff. He declared:
If you have some evidence that I am that person then you would have to take me into custody. That would be your duty. But since I’m not that person, you have a duty to let me go.
As Soce further demanded to see the sergeant the tide began to turn even more in favor of the still unidentifiable citizen.
I want to talk to your sergeant...you’re going to hear from my lawyer...I feel totally violated right now, Jim Bryant (he says as he reads the officer’s business card).
Soce wasn’t done with Officer Bryant. He accused the officer of violating his constitutional rights to freely be able to travel unmolested, uncontested by law enforcement. He said:
I want to dress you down in front of your sergeant...You diminished yourself in my estimation.
We still have no idea who Mr. Tawasi Soce really is, and we don’t need to know. We just want to say thank you for showing all Americans and non-Americans alike how to stand courageously in the face of intimidation, firmly fixed on your constitutional natural law rights.