Monday, May 24, 2010

Geogia-Zero Tolerance for Differences

photo credit-centralasian
creative commons license

Evidently it's not safe to walk around (or sit) any place in Georgia while being autistic. At least not by yourself. Because if you do, you're fair game for being tased by the police. At least, that's what the police chief of Tybee Island, Georgia seems to think.

A little over a week ago, it was a 14 year old boy being arrested on felony terrorism charges for drawing threatening one inch stick figure drawings on his homework. Now it's an 18 year old autistic young man tasered after being confronted by police while he was sitting on the curb waiting for his brother and a friend to come out of a restaurant.

WMBF news reported yesterday on how 18 year old Clifford Grevemberg was waiting on the curb outside the Rock House Bar and Grill for his brother and a friend to come out, when he was approached by two policemen. According to the police report, Clifford was staggering while walking back and forth in front of the establishment, and when questioned, responded that he was waiting for his brother to come out with some food.

The police report said that one officer asked Clifford if he had been drinking, and he responded yes. Of course, they didn't ask him what he had been drinking. Unless he was asked if he had been drinking alcohol, my 10 year old son might have also responded in the affirmative, having drunken water, soda, or some other perfectly legal beverage. The officers then asked for identification (twice), and when Clifford turned and began to walk away, they grabbed his arm. Clifford, as might be expected, tried to retract his arm away from them, which gave these two police officers all the justification they thought they needed to taser him. Which they did while forcing Clifford to the ground, causing a bruised face and a broken tooth.

The Tybee police chief, in a statement given today, tried to explain away the incident by saying that Clifford gave the appearance of being intoxicated, and tasing him prevented further damage to both Clifford as well as the officers. He gave a backhanded apology, saying

"We are sincerely apologetic for the injuries suffered to Mr. Grevemberg. We are also sorry he was left unattended under the circumstances..."

In other words, if you are so brazen as to think that you have the right to walk or sit in a public place while being autistic (and you don't have an attendant immediately at your side), then you shouldn't complain when the police tase you and arrest you.


David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E. said...

I'm surprised that we haven't yet learned ANYthing from the Zimbardo prison study. It was about more than the locking up of students and imposing a watch on them by other students.

It was about the unchecked and unregulated use (and abuse) of power.

Excuse me for saying this but - from the point of view of this autistic psychologist, the whole world's turning into a shit-hole. Time to get out, methinks.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

They are sorry he was left UNATTENDED?!! Women get treated like this in Muslim countries, but we should expect a bit better here.

Patrick said...

Very scary.

Though I have no reason to think this will happen, I would like to see the police department involved not only be held financially liable for the injuries, but also have to pay a reasonable sum for Clifford's emotional trauma due to the event. There is nothing quite like abridging someone's rights to pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness by making what appears to be a bad arrest.

Should we all be appointed (at no cost to us autistic folk) attendant helpers to prevent this kind of problem in the future?

Sure would add some jobs to the economy.

But Sorry for the ridiculous rhetorical, I know my "doctors" didn't even ask if I needed any kind of help after I got diagnosed.

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to taser someone. Perhaps a certain bullying, ignorant police chief on a certain island in a certain southern state would be a good candidate.

Justthisguy said...

Dang! I used to think that Tybee Island was rather slack, and easygoing. I mind people I saw there who obviously hadn't shaved in half a week, though they owned expensive Mercedes-Benzes. Tybee Island is supposed to be the yawning place of slack.

There really isn't much crime there. I think the cops didn't have anything better to do, and decided to pick on the weird person, just to amuse themselves.

Anonymous said...

You can see why they thought he was drunk, but the police were way to quick with the taser. did he ever really fight them at all? It doesn't sound like it.