Pittsburgh, PA — "Contempt of cop" is not an officially recognized "crime" but rather an unwritten code that has led to the persecution of innumerous innocent people. From offering cops donuts to the following story of an innocent man criticizing a cop's thin blue line face mask, cops have abused their authority and used their badges to assault and arrest people for merely offending them.
On September 6, a man offered a legitimate criticism of a police officer's face mask, which had the notorious thin blue line American flag on it. The man told the officer that the thin blue line flag violates the United States flag code, and he's right. Despite being right, the cop didn't want to hear it and would escalate the situation to the point of threatening the man with a taser, assaulting, and arresting him.
The modified version of the flag being worn by officers entails one thin blue line, which police often contend represents the barrier between “anarchy and a civilized society, between order and chaos, or between respect for decency and lawlessness." However, citizens increasingly perceive this as a symbolic line that represents the separation and differentiates police from the rest of society, representing a blue code of silence amongst the brotherhood of cops. All colors on the flag are blacked out, supposedly as a memorial to all of the fallen officers that lost their life in the line of duty.
And while this may seem admirable to some, in terms of being a memorial, it is also raising serious issues with flag purists. The problem with wearing this adulterated flag stems from an apparent violation of U.S. Flag Code, which states that:
"The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature."
Despite this conflict of interests, police departments across the country continue to don the blue line flag and, as the following incident illustrates, they will use their badges to defend that flag.
According to multiple eye-witnesses, the man questioned the officer in the store about his face mask before the altercation began. As the Pittsburgh City Paper reports:
Pitttsburgh Public Safety spokesperson Cara Cruz writes in a written statement that the Pittsburgh Police officer was working an approved off-duty detail for City of Pittsburgh Special Events. When the officer was approached and confronted about the Blue Lives Matter mask, Cruz writes that "the officer, who was speaking with a Special Events employee at the time, told the man that he would have to agree to disagree."
Cruz says the man wanted to continue to make his point and show him something on his phone, but the officer wouldn't engage. Cruz writes at this point, a line was growing and the man was told to exit the line. When the man continued on, according to Cruz, then the officer asked for his ID to cite him, and the man refused.
Refusing to ID in the state of Pennsylvania is not illegal. Nevertheless, the man was taken outside where he was assaulted and handcuffed.
“OK, OK. My hands are behind my back, sir. I have not done anything. She has it on camera right here,” says the man as the cop threatens to taser him.
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“I don’t care,” shouts the officer, as he places handcuffs on the man.
The man continues to ask why he's being arrested, and the officer continues to refuse to tell him. When he finally responds, the officer tells the man that "he doesn't listen."
"You don’t listen. I told you to go away, you didn’t want to listen,” says the officer, identified as Paul Abel.
The man responds asking, “You told me to go away for what reason? Did I commit a crime?”
The officer does not answer.
“I was kind of stunned, not surprised, but to witness it first hand,” says Alex Osgood, who filmed the altercation. "The officer was being incredibly aggressive. He never said that he was under arrest or why.”
Allegheny County public defender and former candidate for district attorney Lisa Middleman told the Paper that she reviewed the videos and the man is appears to be arrested without cause.
"Thankfully there were many witnesses who can document what actually happened," says Middleman. "For too long, we have relied exclusively on the accounts of police officers and discounted the version of events from those who interact with them. With the advent of cell phone video, it is becoming more clear that not all police officers give truthful accounts of interactions with the public."
According to the court records, the man was charged with six misdemeanors: resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, defiant trespass, and three counts of possession for having marijuana in his backpack that he did not give the officer consent to search.