Summary: Bad checkpoint procedures cause accidents. The solution to the Cynthia McKinney situation is to fix the Capitol building checkpoint. Not to blame the cop, and not to blame McKinney.
This is my understanding of what happened based on conflicting reports:
McKinney walked through a checkpoint for members of Congress without wearing the pin which is supposed to tell the cops that she’s allowed to walk right through as a member of Congress. A police officer asked her to stop a few times, and she didn’t, and he grabbed her arm. Then she poked him with her cellphone.
A grand jury is now considering whether to indict her.
I don’t consider the cop at fault. And I don’t consider McKinney at fault.
I consider the checkpoint procedures to be at fault.
They should install a locked turnstile just for members of Congress, and the cops should make people flash ID to be buzzed though. Then incidents like this won’t happen.
It’s a lousy system to say a cop is supposed to be able to tell if someone in motion is wearing the pin, and if not then chase that someone.
Gathering a grand jury to try to indict McKinney is ridiculous. Prosecutors need to be selective. Authorities should only seek to prosecute someone when it may benefit society.
People have an instinctive reaction to being grabbed to shove back. That won’t change whether she’s prosecuted or not. Indicting McKinney won’t benefit society.
If a Republican Congresswoman ever pokes a cop with her cellphone and doesn’t injure him, I won’t advocate for her to be prosecuted, either. Being a good prosecutor means showing discretion.
« Free Speech »
There is a free speech angle to this issue. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, a young man held up a protest sign. He was grabbed by cops, and charged with assault based on the fact that his elbow moved in the direction of one of the cops as he was being grabbed.
When people are prosecuted for instinctive reactions, it’s a blow to freedom of speech and freedom in general.
I’m not saying that the Cynthia McKinney tussle is directly a free speech issue. I’m saying that they way we treat people who are grabbed by cops and shove back in some way can be a free speech issue, because protesters are among people who are grabbed by cops.
Someone deciding whether to attend a protest ideally wouldn’t have to worry that if a cop grabs him or her at the protest, then he or she may be prosecuted for assault based on the tussle that causes.
« Checkpoints in Iraq »
There is also a problem with checkpoints in Iraq, though that is much more serious. The US military usually waves at a car to try to signal for it to stop, instead of installing a stop sign.
When drivers don’t understand the waving and keep driving, US soldiers shoot the drivers.