There is a growing controversy in Arizona over the arrest of Arizona State University Professor Ersula Ore who refused to show her identification to a police officer and ended up being thrown to the ground and arrested — a scene captured on the videotape below.
It remains unclear why the ASU police officer demands to see the identification of Ore. Libertarians have long opposed these laws required citizens to show their identification to police without any reasonable suspicion of a crime. In this case, Ore had allegedly jaywalked to avoid construction and then objected to what she considered a disrespectful tone of the officer. The officer, identified as Steward Ferrin, says “Let me see your ID or you will be arrested for failing to provide ID.” After he states that he has legal authority for the demand, Ore says that she has “no problem abiding by the law . . . But all I’m asking, do you have to speak to me in such a disrespectful manner?” Ore then resists efforts to handcuff her and eventually hits an officer in the leg.
As we have seen in other controversial arrests, the prosecutors and police piled on charges. She has been charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, refusing to provide identification when requested to do so by an officer and obstructing a highway or public thoroughfare. The kick was so slight, it is hard to see the purpose of the assault charge beyond the desire to increase the possible sentence and force a plea. Likewise, obstructing a highway seems a bit over the top. It is the second charge is easy to establish, albeit controversial with many libertarians. There is no question that she was resisting the officer who did try to get her to yield with verbal commands. However, the proliferation of charges continue to concern many of us in these cases as a way of forcing citizens to enter pleas even when they would prefer to contest the original charge.
Ore is claiming self-defense and says that the officer was reaching toward her anatomy when she kicked him.
Ore is a professor of cultural studies in the English department and lists her interests as “Contemproary Rhetorical Theory, Race Critical Theory, Rhetorics of Race & Culture, Composition, Visual and Material Culture Studies.”
The university issued the following statement.
Arizona State University authorities have reviewed the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the arrest of assistant professor Ersula Ore and have found that the officer involved did not violate protocol and no evidence was found of racial motivation by the ASU Police Department officers involved.
However, the ASU Police Department is enlisting an outside law-enforcement agency to conduct an independent review on whether excessive force was used and if there was any racial motivation by the officers involved. In addition, although no university police protocols were violated, university police are conducting a review of whether the officer involved could have avoided the confrontation that ensued.
According to the police report, ASU Police initially spoke to Ore because officers patrolling the area nearly hit her with their police vehicle as they turned the vehicle onto College Avenue to investigate a disabled vehicle. Officer Stewart Ferrin had no intention of citing or arresting Ore, but for her safety told her to walk on the sidewalk. When Ore refused to comply and refused to provide identification after she was asked for it multiple times, she was subsequently arrested.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has independently reviewed all available evidence, including the police report, witness statements, and audio and video recordings of the incident, and decided to press criminal charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, refusing to provide identification when requested to do so by an officer, and obstructing a highway or public thoroughfare. The charge of assaulting an officer is based on the fact that Ore kicked the officer as is shown on the video and as she admitted in her recorded statements to the police.
Sharon Keeler, firstname.lastname@example.org
The academic status of Professor Ore could be raised if she is convicted or pleads guilty to some of these charges, particularly given the involvement of ASU police. Not only are criminal convictions generally grounds for such review but a crime technically against or involving the university can present a very serious issue for removal.