In response to these two blog posts by someone in Australia who goes by the name Duae Quartenciae (hereafter referred to as D.Q.) about Stephan Orsak, a cyclist who was assaulted by police at the Minneapolis/Saint Paul Airport:
<span id="more-89"></span> <p>There can be absolutely no excuse made for this kind of police behavior. The officer's actions were wrong from the very beginning of the incident. Stopping a cyclist in a potentially dangerous traffic situation is perfectly acceptable; stopping any vehicle by shouting out through the squad car window is dubious at best.</p>
Stopping a cyclist by shouting through the window of a moving squad car, a much larger vehicle, is an improper action. Cars are much larger and heavier than cyclists, and thus a danger, particularly when the operator is (or appears to be) operating from frustration and anger. The officer should have pulled into the lane behind Mr. Orsak and used the squad car’s megaphone, or spoken calmly through the window to instruct him to pull over. Or he could have simply turned on the lights and momentarily hit the siren.
As it was, it seems perfectly sensible to me that Mr. Orsak would seek to end as quickly as possible an exchange that started badly and degraded from there. Police abuses are too common an occurrence to simply follow instructions and wait until “you can take it up with some higher authority”. If an officer is already “abrupt and abrasive”, as D.Q. puts it, at the beginning of the stop, I as the cyclist being stopped am already at high risk, and would want to escape the situation as quickly as possible.
That risk, unfortunately, turned into direct harm when the officer used a weapon on Mr. Orsak. D.Q. also acknowledges that this was uncalled for, but I’m disconcerted that he* seems to make allowances for the officers’ behavior leading to the use of the taser. The assumption in his two postings seems to be that when one is stopped by the police, one should simply obey, no matter what the officer commands.
It simply is not sensible nor self-protective to yield unconditionally to a police officer who has stopped you. This incident is evident proof of that fact. As both a resident of Saint Paul and a regular bicycle commuter, I was disturbed by the story (and how little press it’s gotten), and by the normalization of the notion that we should unquestioningly acquiesce to police power.