Of Historians and Jaywalking

Taken verbatim from Reporter’s Notebook:

On Thursday, just after noon, the Tufts historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto was arrested by Atlanta police as he crossed the middle of the street between the Hilton and Hyatt hotels. After being thrown on the ground and handcuffed, the former Oxford don was formally arrested, his hands cuffed behind his back. Several policemen pressed hard on his neck and chest, leaving the mild-mannered scholar, who’s never gotten so much as a parking ticket, bruised and in pain.


Turns out many of the Historians in Atlanta for last week’s 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association were stopped for jaywalking.

On the days after the professor’s ordeal, the Atlanta police were continuing to stop historians from jaywalking. Anybody caught crossing the street against the light was reprimanded. Many were asked to produce their driver’s license. But police did not arrest anybody. Some historians were mildly amused by the attentiveness of the police to the crime of jaywalking.

There’s actually a good bit of video concerning this incident and the entire meeting, which sounds fascinating if you’re any kind of a history buff, at their site.

I have one comment:

In the “city too busy to hate” which is notorious for also being the “city too busy to stop for pedestrians in cross-walks” when did the Atlanta Police take such a gung-ho approach to jaywalkers?

Every time I’m down by CNN I’m practically encouraged to jaywalk by all the officers there.

Anyhow, just thought I’d share.

[Via BoingBoing]

6 Comments so far

  1. dont come back (unregistered) on January 9th, 2007 @ 11:49 am

    Wow. The comments are interesting (and some hilarious). Apparently in addition to being “targeted” for jaywalking, another historian was robbed while here. Probably not big fans of Atlanta now.

  2. George Burdell (unregistered) on January 9th, 2007 @ 11:53 am

    This is quite a juxtaposition to all the ‘yield to pedestrians within crosswalk’ signs that motorist (including police) love to ignore. It’s tough being a pedestrian in this city.

  3. josh phillipson (unregistered) on January 9th, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

    After nearly being hit (several times) in crosswalks at intersections downtown, I now make a point of jaywalking mid block where I can at least see the cars coming. Too many times have I had a car come from behind, turn right through a crosswalk (at which I had the little green guy) and honk at me to get out of the way. I’d rather break the law then be broken myself.

  4. Alex (unregistered) on January 9th, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

    I jaywalk 5 days a week downtown. There are quite a few confused drivers that fail to acknowledge lights, stop prior to the crosswalk, and yield while making right hand turns that jaywalking seems to be the safer way to go most of the time.

  5. TiredOfStormTroopers (unregistered) on January 10th, 2007 @ 3:59 pm

    Just another good reason why U.S. cops should be shot and not heard. Where I live (in the U.S.), cops routinely and intentionally do not show their ID so that they can’t be identified while they are assaulting the citizen of their choice. Why do we put up with it???

  6. Phil McDonald (unregistered) on January 21st, 2007 @ 1:40 pm

    The problem with the police in the US is that they don’t seem to be allowed to use their common sense.
    If they catch someone attempting to rob a bank -handcuff them. If some foreigner is crossing the road in the wrong place – just let them know.There is no need to cuff them cosh them and get them to the station and strip them and inspect their anus. This just makes the american police look like morons – this can’t be true?

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