On resisting arrest

I once had a colleague who worked closely with police who had a saying "Don't run at night".

By that, he meant, if you see police after dark, don't run away because it makes it look as if you're up to something.

To this list of dos and don'ts for interactions with officers of the law, I think it's fair to add the following:

Don't swear at them.

Be respectful.

Don't resist arrest: do not struggle, certainly do not punch them or, try to kick them.

I think, as a culture we can agree if the police want to detain, handcuff or arrest you - no matter if they're wrong or right - they will achieve it.

They're a police "force", not a police "consensus".

In nearly 30 years of socialising, as well as avid consumption of cop shows and movies, I cannot remember one occasion, where a person swearing at police or resisting them has made the officers change their minds about the arrest and discontinue it.


This can really suck when you've done nothing wrong. It can derail a great night out, often end it, but it is the small price we pay for having law and order.

As distasteful as this may be to some people, we have to do as we are told by police, otherwise chaos ensues. We also can't pick and choose which laws we want to obey.

This is why we have a legal system - because the cool, objectivity of a courtroom seems to get better results than drunk, angry or emotional people deciding courses of action.

This brings me to Jamie Jackson, the Sydney teen who's become the focus of a police brutality furore after vision emerged of him being thrown onto a pavement while handcuffed by cops during last weekend's Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Unlike most people, when I saw the original mobile phone video of Jackson, 18, being shoulder-planted into the footpath, I actually thought, "fair enough". It appeared the bloke had been carrying on like a dill, then he'd lashed out with his foot.

That's called "resisting arrest" and police officers can act unpredictably when you try to stop them doing their job, particularly in heaving crowds of shouting drunks.

This is why you don't resist arrest; it's only going to end badly for one person. You. It's like tackling moving cars.

However, the fact Jackson was thrown to the ground, hands cuffed behind his back, in front of dozens of witnesses, some recording the interaction with with mobile phones, didn't quite gel with me.

Why would the cops be so over the top? The knew they had an audience. It seemed there had to be more to the story.

On Wednesday we heard Jackson had allegedly sworn at police, which had resulted in the situation escalating. By his own admission, Jackson had been stopped by police for "tickling a girl" he didn't know on the back.

It's interesting we've had articles this week about the inappropriateness of police warning women about gang rape, instead of warning men not to rape women - yet the protective instinct of cops in this situation has been ignored.

A man touches a woman he does not know, police react. Seems they're damned if they do, damned if they don't.

In an interview with A Current Affair, Jackson told Tracy Grimshaw: "I was trying to explain to them [the police] a lot, saying 'I wasn't assaulting her, please, like, just let this go, there's so much more worse things they should be looking out for in a festival like this, like gay bashers, like someone with a weapon, not someone who'd just going to go tickle someone'."

We don't know exactly what happened next, but we do know the initial charge laid by police against Jackson was not assault but "offensive language".

Yesterday, a bit more of a picture emerged, with new vision showing an un-cuffed Jackson appearing to take a swing at the arresting officers, then seemingly attempting to kick them.

Should the cop have hurled a 60kg youth to the concrete, while he had no way of breaking his fall? Of course not, but lemme ask you this? If someone is handcuffed and lashing out with their feet, what would you do?

Now surround yourself with a crowd, who are jeering and filming you.

I've been arrested a bunch of times, here in Australia, in the United States and (twice) in Mexico.

On any of those occasions, I'm certain if I'd tried to kick or punch the arresting officers, I'd have been violently restrained, then subdued. In Mexico, I reckon they'd have shot me.

I knew this at a very early age, certainly by 18: "Just do what the police tell you, don't argue".

It's worked pretty well for me.

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