"HANDS-UP" is becoming this generation's raised fist, although this generation first has to pause a moment and put down their Starbucks Latte and their cell phone and their Go-Pro camera, so the maneuver loses a little bit of its spontaneity.
The gesture is (despite the unloading of accouterments ) a powerful one. It doesn't insult police officers, as many police officers seem to think. It questions what the police do, and just as powerfully, how the court system treats the aftermath.
Miami has had its share of police shootings, good and bad. And as a credit to former State Attorney Janet Reno, she and her top prosecutors never wavered in prosecuting an officer if the shooting was a criminal act. See our blog post: "1982 the Case That Made Miami Burn", here.
"I CAN'T BREATHE!"
Yesterday, a Grand Jury in NYC cleared a Police Officer who killed a man. The officer used a banned choke hold. The encounter with the man was over the man selling single cigarettes, which is a crime. But it is not a crime you should be killed for.
From the NY Times Coverage:
“I can’t breathe,” Eric Garner had gasped after the officer put his neck in a chokehold on a hot July day on Staten Island, a fatal encounter captured on video and viewed by millions of people. On Wednesday, after a grand jurydeclined to indict the officer, the words — and the video — were revived in a wave of despair and fury that rolled as far out as the corridors of Capitol Hill and the streets of Oakland, Calif.
Miami needs to join the outrage over the criminalization of our society. People who have the barest encounters with police officers end up getting arrested for nebulous crimes like resisting arrest without violence, which no matter how you cut it, is basically not doing everything a cop tells you to do when you have an encounter with him or her. The case law is replete with decisions pointing to the "voluntary nature" of encounters between citizens and police officers. Appellate judges, secure in their chambers, write about the citizens unfettered right to tell the police officer NO and to go about their day. These judges would be better served spending an afternoon in misdemeanor jail arraignments as the parade of poor individuals, most of them of color, are paraded in front of a judge on a television, and advised of their rights, while they watch the proceedings through one swollen eye, because they "fell" during the arrest for disorderly conduct, or failure to obey the lawful order of an officer.
"HANDS-UP MIAMI" isn't about disrespecting the police. It's about the court system disrespecting the citizens of this community. It's about being beaten when arrested, and then coerced into a plea ("all plea offers are REVOKED if the defendant goes to trial.") and then suffering the unimaginable consequences of a simple misdemeanor on your record. You lose the right to drive. You can't rent a decent apartment. And that doesn't really matter, because you can't get a decent job.
Do we, as lawyers, sworn to up-hold the constitutions of this State and this country, have the guts to protest? Will we all agree to walk into court on Monday, December 22, 2014 and Tuesday December 23, 2014 (albeit light court days) and approach the podium HANDS-UP before addressing the court. (Fed court included!)
Can we make that simple gesture, in solidarity with all those who march, who are beaten, who are choked and shot and killed?
Or don't we have the guts to protest? We read about those who crossed the bridge and marched into Selma. Alabama and were beaten bloody by State troopers on "bloody Sunday"- March 7, 1965. That march led to the passage of the civil rights act. No one will be beaten or gassed or set upon by dogs- although a few judges may frown at you.
HANDS-UP MIAMI. Let the world know we are with you.
See You In Court. HANDS-UP.
WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM