Here’s yet another story from the “police have gone insane” department with past stories including the NYPD labeling people “professional agitators” for filming them, police defending handcuffing a six-year-old girl, a man being arrested for pointing his finger at police, a police officer getting targeted for discipline for stopping a beating, an NYPD officer getting put in a psych ward by his superiors for reporting corruption and more.
Interestingly, this case seems to also bring in the fascinating and troubling trend of police arresting people (and in at least one case even brutally assaulting someone) simply for exercising their right to film officers in a public place performing their public duties.
This particular incident ~ which actually occurred last July but is just now being brought up in a lawsuit ~ involves a couple, 55-year-old Caroline Stern and 54-year-old George Hess, who were allegedly dancing on the empty Columbus Circle subway platform in New York City after listening to jazz at Lincoln Center.
No, this isn’t quite like the people who were arrested for dancing in Washington D.C. at the Jefferson Memorial, as this was in no way an act of civil disobedience or protest. It was just dancing.
According to Fox News Insider, the couple was arrested for “impeding the flow of traffic” because they were dancing while waiting on the subway to arrive shortly before midnight.
It was reported that there was a musician playing steel drums playing in the vicinity and that the couple began doing the Charleston.
“We were doing the Charleston,” said Stern, recalling the events after last July’s Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing.
Police officers then approached the dancing couple and informed them that they were not allowed to dance on the subway platform.
“They said, ‘What are you doing?’ and we said, ‘We’re dancing,’” she recalled, according to the New York Post. “And they said, ‘You can’t do that on the platform.’”
Officers then asked for identification from the couple, but when the woman was only able to show them her credit card with her photograph and signature, the police detained them.
In Fox’s video coverage of this incident, they stated that one of the couple taking out their phone to record the encounter with police is the incident which actually sparked the arrest which led to a whopping 23 hours in police custody.
“We brought out the camera, and that’s when they called backup,” Stern said. “That’s when eight ninja cops came from out of nowhere.”
Hess alleges that he was tackled to the floor of the subway platform by the police and that they both were handcuffed and initially charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly impeding the flow of traffic.
Stern disputes the allegation of impeding the flow of traffic, saying, “There was nobody on the platform. There were, like, three people.”
Unsurprisingly, the charges ~ which even allegedly include resisting arrest ~ were later dropped by the police.
This hasn’t stopped Stern and Hess from fighting back. They recently filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against the city for damages which are not specified.
“I’m a dentist, and I’m 55, and I got arrested for dancing,” Stern told the New York Post. “It was absolutely ridiculous that this happened.”
She also cited the absurdity of the fact that the musician was legally playing there and yet they were arrested for dancing to the music.
“If you are surrounded by good musicians, that’s going to make you want to dance,” Stern said. “The musician who is playing is legal, but … we’re illegal?”
“When you’re waiting for the subway late at night, there’s not much to do but dance and celebrate life,” she added.
Currently, the New York City Law Department is reviewing the papers filed by the couple, according to a spokeswoman.
This is yet another example of the nanny state gone completely inane. To be perfectly honest, I don’t find this type of absurdity to be all that surprising in New York City where there is an outdoor smoking ban, soda ban, trans fat ban, a ban on giving food to the homeless and even an attempt to ban salt.