Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Omnipotence of Law Enforcement

Yet another instance where someone is arrested — and convicted — for ailing to obey a clearly illegal order from a police officer. The officer from Salisbury, North Carolina pulls someone over on a residential street. Many in the neighborhood come out on their front porches to observe what is going on, but one of them has a cell phone camera and is recording what is going on.

The officer tells her — and only her, not the others standing on their porches — to go inside the house. She does not follow that order and the officer arrests here for obstructing a police officer. And a judge convicted her of the offense. Here’s what the actual statute says:

“Any person who shall willfully and unlawfully resist, delay, or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office.”

But none of that applies here. She was standing on her porch recording the situation, not obstructing the officer from doing his job. The chief of police tries to justify it:

“However, just as with many other scenarios, it is important to remember that every situation is based upon its own merits/circumstances. There are some circumstances in which the police who have stopped the vehicle in front of your house may determine that it is in the interest of safety (the officer’s, yours or the individual stopped) to require that folks move. As with other circumstances, it is best advised that an individual merely obey by the officer’s commands.”

Under what circumstances could this woman, and only this woman, be ordered to move for safety considerations? She was up on her porch like everyone else. The only distinction is that she was recording, so the case has to be made the act of recording the stop makes it unsafe. Good luck with that argument.

The notion that you should just do what a police officer tells you, even if that order is clearly not required by law, is appropriate for fascist states, not for free societies.