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Police Arrest Man For Refusing To Tweet 550

RichZellich writes "Police arrested a senior vice president from Island Def Jam Records, saying he hindered their crowd-control efforts by not cooperating. The crowd at a mall where Justin Bieber was appearing got out of control, and police wanted the man to send a tweet asking for calm; he refused and they arrested him on a felony assault charge 'for putting people in danger.'"
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Police Arrest Man For Refusing To Tweet

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  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:20PM (#30217276) Homepage


    • Troll? Did somebody hit the wrong button or what? Subject is spot on!

      • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:11PM (#30217930)

        Because the subject is only spot on if you don't ready the article and are totally ignorant of the facts in the case. He purposefully drew a huge crowd with no crowd control in place and then refused to tell the crowd to disperse (using twitter or by yelling or by anything) when the police showed up to deal with the dangerous, uncontrolled crowd. In fact, he kept sending tweets out about the event even as the police were trying to deal with the crowd. The only thing that courts might have to decide is if the police can compel you to say something for the public safety (the 1st amendment doesn't protect your right to say things that endanger the public, so I don't see why they shouldn't be able to force you to tell a dangerous crowd to disperse).

        • by ElKry ( 1544795 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:30PM (#30218174)

          (the 1st amendment doesn't protect your right to say things that endanger the public, so I don't see why they shouldn't be able to force you to tell a dangerous crowd to disperse).

          And the 1st amendment doesn't protect your right to say things that classify as libel/slander, so I don't see why the cops shouldn't be able to force you to say good things about specific people/companies.

          • From the article:

            Slightly confusing, because Bieber's Twitter account-presumably the one the cops wanted Roppo to use-does indeed show that he asked his fans to leave

            at 4:30 pm Eastern:
            "They are not allowing me to come into the mall. If you don't leave I and my fans will be arrested the police just told us.

            And then:
            "The event at Roosevelt Mall is canceled. Please go home. The police have already arrested one person from my camp. I don't want anyone hurt.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            >>>(the 1st amendment doesn't protect your right to say things that endanger the public

            Too bad the United States Supreme Court disagrees with you. You can say anything upto the point of riot, but if the crowd is not rioting then your innate, natural, and inalienable right to free speech will be protected by the government. It's how people like MLK Junior were able to give speeches in the open, instead of from a jail, even though he was often falsely-accused of spreading violence everywhere he went

        • by selven ( 1556643 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @05:26PM (#30218958)

          The 1st amendment doesn't protect your right to say some things, but this is about NOT saying something. Completely different problem.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dcollins ( 135727 )

          Last I checked: You have a right to remain silent.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by DJRumpy ( 1345787 )

            This is a good point, but I think that right may apply only after you've been arrested (can someone with a legal background verify?). That said, I think the cops were in the wrong with the arrest. If he was actively tweeting, to incite the crowd into malicious behavior, they would have something, but unless they could prove that someone in the crowd was in imminent harm, they have no case. They can't compel you to say something. That goes against the very basic principals of the 1st amendment. If anything,

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The only thing that courts might have to decide is if the police can compel you to say something for the public safety (the 1st amendment doesn't protect your right to say things that endanger the public, so I don't see why they shouldn't be able to force you to tell a dangerous crowd to disperse).

          Actually, the first amendment should also prevent the government from coercing someone to speak; while in this case it may be "a good idea to make him say something" that's a slippry slope to head down. Of course, he should be liable (civilly and criminally) if he was resposnible for creating the conditions that resulted in teh problems. But that is different from being arrested and charged for refusing to speak.

      • by JStegmaier ( 1051176 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:20PM (#30218070)

        Subject is spot on!

        Unless you actual read anything at all about the event. The guy was tweeting about the event still being on, even after it was canceled (in order to draw even more people in to an already bad situation), so the officers asked him tweet again to tell those who had seen his tweets before that it was actually canceled... That's not the main reason he was arrested, but it contributed.

        By the way, anyone who actually think the headlines or summaries on Slashdot are even remotely accurate, as you and the GP seem to, is definitely new here.

  • Sounds like the cops need to arrest themselves. How do they think the crowd will react to something like this?
  • by bbbaldie ( 935205 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:21PM (#30217284) Homepage
    Do I side with the Fascist cops or the Nazi record exec?
  • Ahh Slashdot (Score:5, Informative)

    by George Beech ( 870844 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:24PM (#30217320)
    He was not arrested for "felony assault" he was arrested for, and i quote TFA:

    He was in custody Friday night, pending charges that could include criminal nuisance, endangering the welfare of a minor and obstructing government administration, Smith said.

    And no i'm not new here.

    • Re:Ahh Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:27PM (#30217350) Journal

      obstructing government administration

      Wow. The fact that you can even be charged for something as vague and open to interpretation as that is scary regardless of the context.

      • by endianx ( 1006895 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:34PM (#30217450)
        How can you be charged with obstructing government administration when government administration's purpose is seemingly to obstruct. Sounds anti-competitive to me.
      • Re:Ahh Slashdot (Score:5, Informative)

        by Reckless Visionary ( 323969 ) * on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:48PM (#30217642)

        Your point would make sense if it were at all true that the common description of the law had any legal weight outside of the actual text of the law and the applicable case law. That you can call something the "Was Being Bad" law doesn't mean that's what legal standard is applied by judge or jury. Presumably this description is applicable in New York: []

        A reasonable person may disagree with the law or it's exact wording (we are "free" to do so), but don't imply that the title of the law somehow proves a vague catch-all conspiracy.

        • Re:Ahh Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

          by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:01PM (#30217830) Journal

          I am of the opinion that laws should at least attempted to be written in such a way that they are parseable and understandable by mere mortals. I understand the need for unambiguous legalese, but in this case the title of the law is clearly misleading.

          Anyway, looking at the law itself, I do not see how it applies here:

          A person is guilty of obstructing governmental administration when he intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the administration of law or other governmental function or prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant from performing an official function...

          Okay, now the specific conditions follow:

          by means of intimidation, physical force or interference

          Doesn't apply.

          by means of any independently unlawful act

          Doesn't apply.

          by means of interfering, whether or not physical force is involved, with radio, telephone, television or other telecommunications systems owned or operated by the state, or a county, city, town, village, fire district or emergency medical service

          Doesn't apply.

          by means of releasing a dangerous animal under circumstances evincing the actor's intent that the animal obstruct governmental administration.

          Doesn't apply. In fact, it is perfectly clear and obvious to any sane person - which should, presumably, include police (I sure hope they're sane when on duty!) - that none of those points can apply to this man. I'm not sure, perhaps what he did is indeed grounds for arrest under the laws as written, just not this one.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mea37 ( 1201159 )
            I woudl guess they're applying the first condition (by means of intimidation, physical force or interference). Specifically, they're probably saying that his refusal to cooperate constituted interference with their attempt to perform their duties.
            • Well, I don't know the case law, but I doubt mere non-cooperation constitutes "interference". He didn't prevent the cops from doing something, he just refused to help.

              Also, I'd love to know how that bit about dangerous animals ended up in the statute. I suspect there's a bit of history there.
          • by SlashDotDotDot ( 1356809 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:24PM (#30218124) Journal

            by means of releasing a dangerous animal under circumstances evincing the actor's intent that the animal obstruct governmental administration.

            Doesn't apply.

            Are you kidding? The man released Justin Bieber into a mall. Has a more dangerous animal ever been released into a more governmental structure?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by GooberToo ( 74388 )

            by means of any independently unlawful act

            Doesn't apply.

            Wrong. Failure to comply with a lawful order of a police officer is, by definition, "independently unlawful", within the great context.

      • Re:Ahh Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:10PM (#30217922) Homepage

        > Wow. The fact that you can even be charged for something as vague and open to interpretation as that is scary
        > regardless of the context.

        Actually... you can be CHARGED for almost anything.

        One of the facts overlooked in the Henry Gates fiasco was that.... he never broke the law, yet he was arrested.

        Its true, MA courts have ruled pretty decisively AGAINST the interpretation of "disturbing the peace" that would have allowed for him to be convicted. Over 20 years ago there was a case of a man who was told by police to leave the scene, refused. Not only refused by yelled at the officer, and gesticulated wildly with his arms while doing so.

        The courts ruled that nothing that he did, not gesticulating wildly (since it was not threatening motion, just wild passionate gesture), not refusing to leave the scene, not yelling, not because a crowd gathered. NONE of the behavior that was WELL BEYOND what Mr Gates did... NONE of it was enough to find him guilty.

        There have been several cases since then, all the same result.

        So the question, in my mind, becomes... where does the responsibility lie on the police side to actually know the law and legal precident and to apply it correctly? Shouldn't such public behavior laws be something the police know about and know how to enforce? SHouldn't they be required to at least attempt to apply the law correctly?

        Apparently the official answer is: No they shouldn't.


  • How is a tweet requesting calm going to do anything. Most of the people wouldn't pay any attention. The cops should have just used their loudspeaker and told the attendees to calm it down or be arrested. The arresting officer should have some unpaid time off at least for being so stupid.
    • by lorenlal ( 164133 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:47PM (#30217628)

      Agreed. The crowd was out of hand before the record folks even showed up. The mall security, and the local authorities failed, and then decided to blame someone else for it.

      The next thing is: In the article, it appeared that most of the attendees were tween girls... And there were plenty of references to parents being there too. One reference even said that a mother, father and daughter "camped out" so they could be near the front. They also fail. As adults, be freaking civil, you're supposed to be examples. I'm willing to bet that a lot of the fighting was between the adults...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:24PM (#30217328)

    Was their bullhorn broken?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      People respect individuals far more than the police. After all, we all know the police force is out to get you and is only there for nefarious reasons (like taking away your drugs or your fun). Why should we listen to the police?

      Seriously, I don't think this generation cares about the police. We have decided that we'd rather rebel and follow some rich guy (put anyone's name in there, even a celebrity) than submit to an authority.

      It's an "against the establishment" thing... doesn't particularly matter wha

  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:24PM (#30217332) Journal
    How long before this is held up as an example of why the forces of Public Safety(tm) need to be given the ability to impersonate any twitter user, for the security of the people?
  • by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:26PM (#30217344)
    All piling on, screaming, yelling, rabid comments, without knowing why or how.

    Have you watched the video? Did you see how PACKED it was?

    Where were the orderly lines, set up with ropes, enforced with security? Where were any possible safety measures?

    This record exec, if he arranged this, screwed up in a HUGE way. It was pretty clear that NO one was organizing or making this event orderly. I'm surprised people weren't getting pushed over the waist high walls into the second level, or falling and getting crushed under foot.

    I'm sorry, but there is a whole lot of circumstances here beside what the oh-so-informative title says. The record label and the mall need to be held responsible for that total cluster fuck. Ordering him to tweet WAS compeltely reasonable when you see the danger involved that this man caused by a total lack of preparation.
    • by Rene S. Hollan ( 1943 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:01PM (#30217832)

      I Agree.

      I once helped organize a peaceful public march on public sidewalks that ended in a public park with a community picnic. I had to obtain indemnity forms from all participants for my own protection (in case someone slipped and twisted an ankle), but more imnportantly, also obtain insurance to compensate the city if there was any damage: $250,000 worth, given the size of the crowd. (It was actually cheap, about $200).

      I was also expected to ensure that people acted in an ORDERLY manner, and would have been required to pay for police presence if the crowd was expected to be large.

      The point here was that the event was badly organized and the organizers charged regardless of whether they cooperated with "tweeting" or not. They just made a bad situation worse by not cooperating.

  • Good (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Damn non-tweeters. Lock them all up and throw away the key, I say.

    If we allow non-tweeters, what's next? Non-myspacers? Non-facebookers? It's utter madness!

  • by Aphoxema ( 1088507 ) * on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:30PM (#30217386) Homepage Journal

    Oh, hay guyz I juss got a tweet saying we need to chillax and GTFO sall cool tho cuz they let us kno on twit

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Aphoxema ( 1088507 ) *

      Oh, sorry about that, I capitalized the "I" and "GTFO" and "O" in "Oh". I also used one too many commas. I'm new at this, please forgive me.

  • Riotous rumor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Silentknyght ( 1042778 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:33PM (#30217420)

    So, you already have an unruly crowd waiting for the arrival of someone special, and you want to effectively disseminate a rumor* that said special person isn't arriving? And that's supposed to calm the crowd down and get them to leave peacefully? Must be some new-age thinking, there...

    *As previous poster(s) have mentioned, a message via twitter is only going to be received by a select few people who have access to twitter in that situation, and therefore, its only going to spread to everyone via word of mouth. In other words, a rumor.

    • Re:Riotous rumor (Score:5, Informative)

      by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:26PM (#30218138)
      Yeah, previous posters, there's a legitimate source of information. You could read the god damn article, but that's way too hard, just read the comments and assume the ones you like were in the article. If you read TFA, the crowds were contained by police, who errected barricades to try and hold them back. The singer tweeted them all that it was off, and not to show up. They started dispursing without a story on the national news, so the record exec tweeted and told them it was still on, mixup, he's inside RIGHT NOW RUN HURRY! And they rioted, smashing through barricades. Yeah, you're totally right, teenagers don't bring cellphones when they go outside, and those few that do don't fucking use twitter. Idiot, every last one was subscribed, that's why they showed up in the first place, twitter flashcrowd. So the guy got arrested because, instead of doing what he was asked, telling them it was canceled, because it was, he told them it's still on, and urged them to break through police barricades.
  • But I hope he is exonerated, sues the fuck out of the county and wins. Not that he needs the money, but there needs to be a clear message sent that you can't twist the law any which way you please when you piss the authorities off.
  • As much as I hate that Youtuber douchebag Justin Bieber, I think the cops were probably pretty stupid for arresting him, especially considering what appear to be the facts. However, I'd be pretty pissed off if I was a cop and I had to disperse a mob of whiny, caffeinated teenage girls congregating over *that* guy too, so I can empathize. I still anticipate a false arrest case.
  • by sugapablo ( 600023 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:40PM (#30217534) Homepage
    Tweeting is the ONLY way to break up a riot of teenage girls!
  • And here I thought that the Free Speech Clause applied equally to compelled speech.

    Who knew?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arielCo ( 995647 )
      So this would be like, the cops desregarded his right to not shouting "there's no fire!" in a crowded theater?
  • Did they really expect everyone to suddenly chill out and go find something else to do because of a twitter post? I find this line of reasoning difficult to comprehend...then again they are cops.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:41PM (#30217558)

    I'm pretty sure that he was tweeting to the crowd at the time he was asked to do this, and I'm pretty sure the crowd was reading those tweets, cause they reacted to a tweet about him being arrested. If an exec who helped disorganize (I can't say organize cause it wasn't) this event refuses to help disarm the situation then he should be arrested and charged. Idiots who don't bother to asses the whole situation and knee jerk that he was falsely arrested need to step back and smell the unruly crowd and if you haven't been in one of these you have no idea how dangerous it can become really quickly. Any steps to help keep them calm would help immensely even if it only reached 1 in 25 of them it would still have a calming effect.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tomhudson ( 43916 )

      it would still have a calming effect.

      I take it you've never been the parent of a teenage daughter ...

      "Hello, riot squad? We f*d up here - we told the guy to tweet 'nobody go there' so a huge crowd came to see what's going on and now we can't get out, and we're going deaf from all these teenage girls screaming and OMFG IT'S CONTAGIOUS THIS IS LIKE SO KEWL I M SO DOWN WITH IT YEAH 4EVER THIS ROX U GOT 2 CUM HERE RT NW BRNG TEH GANG BEER CHEEZ DIP LUBE FUK TEH BOSS PARTY PARTY PARTY LOL!"

  • Crap (Score:5, Informative)

    by wkurzius ( 1014229 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:44PM (#30217588)

    According to police, the crowd was broken up after safety concerns were raised, but Bieber's record exec, James Roppo, Tweeted that the singer was still signing. This caused fans to go berzerk and rush forward, breaking down barriers. []

    Roppo continued to tweet about the autograph signing even after it was canceled and ended up being arrested for reckless endangerment among other crimes. []

    Crappy summary linking to crappy reporting.

    • Re:Crap (Score:4, Informative)

      by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:36PM (#30218238) Journal

      All of the sources seem to link back to this NY Daily News article [], and specifically, this paragraph:

      James Roppo, 44, the senior vice president of sales at Island Def Jam Records, sent out Internet messages to over 3,000 fans that Justin Bieber was signing autographs even after police dispersed the crowd, cops said.

      If somebody can find a link to those tweets, this accusation has some merit.

  • Some lawyers are going to make a boat load of money over this.

  • "Can't you people handle your own problems?....Do we have to police the entire town?"
    Seriously though...isn't the summary a little misleading? The man was not arrest because he 'refused to tweet' anymore than someone arrested for not pulling over was arrested for 'refusing to turn slightly to the right (or left depending on the country)'.
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:51PM (#30217686)
    Stores, for example, are expected to at least talk to the local PD about traffic/crowd concerns, and engage in some common crowd control 'best practices', call the police if things look like they're getting out of control, etc. And sometimes, yeah, the cops say Pool's Closed if they think people are going to get hurt.

    If the event was promoted on twitter, you're damn right it is reasonable to expect that it MIGHT be an effective communication tool. At the very least, it'll maybe stop MORE people from showing up. And if the cops said "look, there's this crazy crowd, it's going to get ugly, please help" and the guy won't- well, sorry, that's just being an asshat, and if people do get injured, I don't think an arrest and charge is out of the question. Then the DA has to decide it's worth prosecuting and the court has to decide if it's legit enough to go to trial. And then he gets a trial by jury if he wants it.

  • by Farmer Tim ( 530755 ) <> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:53PM (#30217718) Journal

    Cops powerless against teenage girls.

    I think I can see why they needed to arrest someone...

Forty two.