Over the weekend, a non violent spray paint artist was arrested(!?) at Baltimore’s Harborplace. Police claim he was on private property, he claims he was on public land. I don’t know, and I wasn’t there, so I can’t comment if the arrest was legal.
However, the officer involved did finally admit something we’ve known for quite some time.
A police officer on bicycle patrol wrote in his report that Chase was “performing for money” and had three buckets with the word “Tips” painted on the side. The officer wrote that the buckets were on private property operated by General Growth Properties, which runs Harborplace. But a company spokesman said Chase was on city property.
The report says the officer and Chase argued about his rights before he was arrested, taken to the booking center and given an October trial date.
“It is my constitutional right to be here without prior approval,” Chase said to the officer, according to a video that captured part of his encounter with police.
“Your constitutional rights have nothing to do with the law,” the officer responded.
No kidding. In Baltimore, that is a true statement. Later, to their credit, they try to backtrack.
Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the officer was trying to explain that he was enforcing a valid law and couldn’t debate constitutional claims more suited for a courtroom than a street corner.
“The courts have a right to weigh in on it,” Guglielmi said. “But as of today … we still have an ordinance we have to enforce.”
This is the problem. The guys and gals on the street don’t understand (or don’t care) about the rights of the citizens. The union backs them up. (See also: Tshamba shooting). The only person who can discuss rights and the Constitution in an intelligent manner is the department spokesperson, reading from a script.
We deserve better, and the Baltimore Police Department needs to start taking accountability.