Two men had just crossed the street when they were rushed by several Austin police officers who shoved them against a wall, punching and kneeing them while telling them to stop resisting.
When asked what crime had the men committed, one of the cops looked up and said, “crossed against the light.”
Yes, that heinous crime of jaywalking, which is taken very serious in Austin as we learned last year when the city made international news after police beat up a jogger for jaywalking.
Last Thursday police in Austin, Texas, began a “pedestrian enforcement” activity near the campus of the University of Texas, where they stopped and warned or ticketed jaywalkers.
When law enforcement officers attempted to issue a jaywalking citation to a jogger, Amanda Jo Stephen, she refused to stop. Some witnesses say she didn’t hear the officers, as she was wearing earphones. Police contend that the officers were clearly visible to her.
One way or the other, according to reports, police chased her down and detained her, at which point she became unco-operative and refused to give her name. Several officers then placed her under arrest, and she was carried, screaming into a police car and taken to jail, where she was booked for jaywalking and “failure to identify”.
Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo quickly came to the defense of the arresting officers, saying they may have been rough with the female college student, but at least they didn’t rape her.
This person absolutely took something that was as simple as ‘Austin Police – Stop!’ and decided to do everything you see on that video,” Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said at a press conference Friday, according to Austin NPR station 90.5 KUT.
“And quite frankly she wasn’t charged with resisting. She’s lucky I wasn’t the arresting officer, because I wouldn’t have been as generous. … In other cities there’s cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty, so I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas,” Acevedo said.
So yes, while beating up citizens up for jaywalking might seem a bit extreme, especially since jaywalking citations are supposedly meant for safety reasons, we should be grateful that they didn’t drag the young men into a back alley and sodomize them.
Instead, they dragged one of them into the street and handcuffed him.
But who knows what they would have done had the cameras not been there.
The video was uploaded to Facebook earlier today. But the incident took place Wednesday, according to the person who posted it.
Call the Austin Police Department at 512-974-5000 or leave a comment on their Facebook page. Be sure to make screenshots of your comments in case they start deleting them, which can be used in a potential lawsuit.
UPDATE: We exchanged Facebook messages with Rolando Ramiro, the young man who recorded the incident. He said he and his friends began crossing a barricaded street when the light changed as they were crossing, which made the cops demand their identifications, accusing them of jaywalking.
“Fuck no,” one of his friend’s said, pointing out that it was a barricaded street with no traffic, essentially a legal pedestrian walkway.
Apparently, the cop wanted them to stop for a yellow crossing light as they were stepping into the street, even though the street was barricaded forbidding any cars from entering.
And it doesn’t matter anyway. What matters is that the Austin Police Department acted like complete thugs. The punching. The kicking. The arrogance.
Ramiro did an excellent job recording the insanity. Note how he recorded holding the phone horizontally. Note the difference from the usual vertical videos. Make it instinct to record horizontally. Not enough people do.