Newark police have once again pissed all over the First Amendment.
This time it was Brian Shariff, a hulking veteran police officer who can be seen on video ordering a news photographer to “put the camera away”.
Shariff repeats his order three times in a matter of seconds before shoving his hand violently into the lens of CBS cameraman Jim Quodomine.
In the ensuing struggle, CBS reporter Christine Sloan can be heard shouting, “you can’t arrest him.”
“I can do whatever I want,” Shariff responds as he handcuffs Quodomine.
Shariff then places a handcuffed Quodomine in a choke hold before shoving him in the back of a squad car.
Quodomine was covering a peaceful demonstration on Sunday where family members of gunshot victims were asking the clergy for help in resolving a recent spate of violence.
Quodomine was released an hour later with a criminal summons of “disorderly conduct”, which I’ve always said is the old standby police use when they can’t think of an actual crime committed.
On Monday, after Newark Mayor Cory Booker said he was “disgusted” and “disturbed” by the video, Shariff was suspended without pay.
But Booker also claimed that Shariff was a “special police officer”, which somehow is different than just a police officer.
Booker said that special police officers, such as Shariff, receive training from the city and often work at churches and local businesses. Their uniforms are similar to those of regular police officers, but they are not police officers.
If they are not police officers, then why the hell is Shariff wearing a yellow vest that clearly states “Newark Police”? And why the hell does Shariff have the power to arrest citizens?
It sounds to me that Booker is trying to take blame off the Newark Police Department, which was sued twice in one week in January over separate First Amendment issues.