At this point, it’s probably impossible for the Ferguson police to look any less professional — and it’s not for a lack of trying, because believe me, they’re trying very hard.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Tuesday that Officer Keith Novara is under the lens of Internal Affairs for admitting on video that he’d contacted an the employer of Leigh Maibes, an activist, for her tweets concerning police brutality. By Officer Novara’s standards, the tweets were “incitement.” His actions, by the standards of Internal Affairs, are “intimidation.”
I’m not sure about you, but I’m throwing in with Internal Affairs on this one.
Internal Affairs launched the investigation after Leigh Maibes, who participated in the Ferguson protests, posted a video on YouTube of a telephone conversation with Officer Novara. During the conversation, Maibes tells Novara that “this feels like intimidation,” as “you are an officer that patrols my area” and “an officer that I’ve also had contact with about trying to resolve some issues on my street.” She asks him “were you doing that for my benefit?”
Novara answers bluntly, telling her “no” and adding that “I was just doing it to let them know that if their phones were going to be ringing off the hooks that that was why.”
When Maibes indicates that her employer is located outside of the district that Novara patrols, Novara responds that he saw “some of the tweets” as “inciteful.” Novara also seems to believe that police brutality is a matter of opinion; when Maibes notes that she said nothing against the police and when she asks if having a “problem with police brutality” is “being against the police,” Novara says “that’s your opinion, and you can have that opinion.”
When the conversation turns to the issue of discrimination against African Americans, Novara drops the issue, saying that he no longer wishes to “engage” in the conversation.
And to help the Ferguson police look worse (because they clearly needed the assistance), the St. Louis Police Officers Association accused Maibes of being an apologist “for the so-called ‘peaceful protestors’ in Ferguson,” who “defend throwing bricks, bottles and rocks at police officers as ‘freedom of speech or freedom of expression” in a statement that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch obtained.
The statement goes on to add that:
[T]hose very same people feign righteous indignation when a police officer who is fed up with the corrosive, anti-police rhetoric that this particular agitator has made in a public forum on social media, exercises his freedom of speech and freedom of expression in a truly peaceful manner. Police officers are not second-class citizens. They enjoy First Amendment rights and every other right that is enjoyed by every other citizens and we will aggressively defend those rights to our last breath.
Intimidation is now protected speech under the First Amendment? I’m not sure I want to see the mental gymnastics that go into justifying that.
You can watch the video below: