Two different videos showing arrests being made have been circulating around the Internets in the last 24 hours.
Both arrests involve force. Both of the apprehended men are body slammed to the ground in front of a bunch of onlookers. But only one of these incidents is being universally applauded. The other has been at the center of a heated debate on stop-and-frisk and excessive use of force by NYPD.
The New York Post has exclusive video of good Samaritans coming to the rescue of a woman whose iPhone was grabbed from her hands in front of 100 Church Street in downtown Manhattan. Two men, Brian Hester and Chase Bunn, ran after and apprehended the thief, Noah Udell, and held him until cops arrived. Udell attempted to run again after the initial apprehension, but was subdued with the time-honored tactic of having a boot put on this throat. The Post basically orgasms all over itself in adulatory praise for Hester and Bunn, which I completely understand. I really love my iPhone. I often play a game in my head called "Would I rather lose my iPhone or have _____ terrible thing happen to me?"
Actually, I've NEVER played that game in my head, but if I DID, I would imagine that there are many terrible things I'd rather have happen to me than having my iPhone stolen.
I mean, I don't think I've ever backed it up. Even though it's ALWAYS warning me to do exactly that!
Even so, a boot on the throat? That seems a bit much. The phone was returned. What if Udell had gotten away? The fact that he didn't, that the police then came, I mean, he probably won't serve any jail time, right? Considering that drivers in NYC have basically been given a free pass to commit manslaughter at whim, I would hope that jails are filled with more deserving criminals than iPhone thieves.
You know what I mean by "deserving criminals," right? I obviously mean people who smoke all that marijuana. Yeah, they totally deserve to be in jail.
The other video, shown on Gothamist, is much more contentious, and deservedly so, because it is not showing a citizen's arrest. Rather, it is a video of an NYPD officer apprehending a young man—Sean Pagan, 19—for vandalizing a subway station. The video documents the officer proceeding to frisk and then body slam Pagan to the ground of the subway station. The video was making the Internet rounds yesterday lacking context or explanatory audio and was roundly derided as an instance of an officer using excessive force without provocation.
As more information has come to light, namely the fact that Pagan has been arrested 9 times for similar acts of vandalism, reactions to the video have been more mixed with many commenters calling Pagan a "thug" and saying that he got what was coming to him. Others, including activist David Galarza who shot the video that was circulated, are saying that this is an example of the racial profiling and excessive brutality that is endemic to the NYPD's tactics and that Pagan is a true victim here.
In fact, both the existence of police brutality and the reality that Pagan has a long history of petty crime are not mutually exclusive. While Pagan does have a long arrest record, he has never been charged with possession of a weapon and the officer's decision to do a stop-and-frisk, which then led to the body slam, reflects poorly on the much-criticized stop-and-frisk policy.
Was the officer really expecting to find a weapon? Studies have shown that weapons are statistically incredibly unlikely to be recovered during stop-and-frisk. So, was this little more than an intimidation tactic?
Whatever the motivations, two men were stopped and thrown to the ground yesterday for petty crimes. I guess, this is how deterrence works?
Is it working?