There is a lot that can be said about the arrest of those who protest against police brutality. Many of the protesters are doing just that – protesting. Some people, of course, are committing violent or otherwise illegal acts, although you would have to be all-knowing to conclude without any doubt that the lawbreakers were the same people who were protesting.

Of course, the Phoenix PD apparently didn’t worry about whether a protester was breaking the law or not. They decided – we assume at the order of a PD higher-up – that they would simply arrest protesters regardless of whether they were breaking the law. We should say regardless of the fact that there was even probable cause that a law had been broken by the individual(s) arrested.

Cut-and-Paste Arrests for Rioting

The police methodology was pretty simple. It’s being called “cut-and-paste” evidence. Here’s how it has been used. On Saturday, May 30, Phoenix police arrested 114 during protests downtown, most of whom were charged with rioting, a felony.

According to witnesses in the courtroom after the arrests, nearly every one of the cases was thrown out by the judges for lack of probable cause. The statement of probable cause offered by the cops in just about each of the cases was identical. It contained a statement of alleged wrongdoing, but failed to include any facts indicating that the person arrested was involved, let alone that he or she was rioting, or did anything illegal. The identical statement was used over and over by the cops, leading to the expression “cut-and-paste evidence.”

Those who were in court following the arrests say that in most of the cases, at the initial appearance, the judge found that the arrest was without probable cause, and ordered the defendant released. The person could still be prosecuted down the road, but at this point, it seems unlikely in most cases.

As an interesting side-note to what looks like a wholesale violation by the police of the first amendment rights of the protesters, many of those arrested have been unable, after their arrests were thrown out, to recover any of their personal belongings (wallets, credit cards, etc.) taken by the police. Apparently, confusion reigns.

Law Offices of David A. Black
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Phoenix, AZ 85004
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