Culp-able? Lawyer Arrested After Saying “I Hate the Police” in Front of D.C. Officers

180px-Handcuffs01_2003-06-02Lawyer Pepin Tuma, 33, was speaking with friends on Saturday night about his outrage over the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. when he passed a group of D.C. police officers, including Second District Officer J. Culp. The lawyer started to chant “I hate the police” as he walked by and ended up under arrest.

It is a story that is all too familiar to some of us in D.C. I have had no less than a dozen law students over the years who were either detained or charged for objecting to police misconduct or taking pictures of what they viewed as abuse.

Tuma said that he saw the collection of cruisers and remarked to his friend, That’s why I hate the police” before chanting “I hate the police, I hate the police.”

A witness said that an officer, Second District Officer J. Culp, responded by saying “Hey! Hey! Who do you think you’re talking to? Who do you think you are to think you can talk to a police officer like that?”

Tuma says that he immediately cited his first amendment rights but that the officer shoved him against an electric utility box and eventually arrested him. Obviously, this would be a highly abusive arrest if the cause was Tuma simply denouncing officers or chanting anti-police statements. Of course, the arrest is hardly going to improve his view of police.

There is also an allegation that the officer called Tuma “a faggot” — Tuma is reported to be gay in this article.

For the full story, click here.

18 thoughts on “Culp-able? Lawyer Arrested After Saying “I Hate the Police” in Front of D.C. Officers”

  1. I was not arrested but probably should have been when I ripped a ticket to shreds and tossed it in my yard in the presence of an officer for littering and discharge of fireworks within the city limits. But for him being a rookie he would have smelled alcohol on my breath and I could have been arrested for Public Intoxication. But hey it was the 4th of July why not.

    The scratcher was the city nor the county prosecutor would pick it up. I had friends in some good places we were all of the Vietnam era. So his time was for naught. The cop did harass my wife and myself for 2 weeks after because he could not get charges pressed.

    I look back on it now and realize what I did was wrong and disrespectful, not only to the cops, my neighbors, my family and myself. I for some reason have a different attitudes since November of 09. I have grown as a person and adult.

  2. I was arrested on “M” Street in Washington D.c. in the early 90’s. Just graduated from Georgetown, I was exiting a bar and saw Officer Williams beating a student with his stick. I mentioned to a friend, “I wonder if that cop is a member of the Class of ’89?” I had recently read an article in the Post about how many cadets from the D.C> Academy, Class of 1989, had been indicted/convicted of felony charges AFTER they became officers.

    Officer Williams heard me. He stopped beating the other student, grabbed me and through me against a wall. I was handcuffed and a few minutes later slammed hard into the backseat of his cruiser.

    He never mentioned a charge, though I demanded to know. On the way to the nearby precinct, I of course reminded him of my rights. He laughed the whole way. At the station, I was left sitting, cuffed, on a chair next to a desk for over 2 hours. So, I started singing God Bless America over and over, increasingly louder.

    He finally came back, charged me with ‘intent to incite a riot’. What amazed me was that the only way a riot could have been fomented is if everyone including Officer Williams was aware of the article and also aware of my sarcastic connection to the article and also (this is the funny part) if all those people were inclined to stop their personal lives that minute and rebel collectively against the state. O.k. so D.C. is not a state, but you catch my drift.

    Turns out Officer Williams a few months/years(?) later was the same D.C. officer who handcuffed a woman to a mailbox on “M” street and left her there for awhile. The woman sued him and discovered dozens of others who were victims of Officer Williams abuse. I was deposed for that case, but didn’t join the class action.

    Before that night, it was routine for D.C. officers to throw Georgetown students into the PaddyWagon for nonsenses. Must have been a revenue issue, a power issue, or more likely… a cultural issue with the Academy’s admission standards.

    Thanks for posting the blog entry. People need to know many police are not there to protect and serve anything…. but their egos.

    And I am truly sorry for all the fantastic, brave officers who manage their profession WITHIN the law. Not only must they work alongside such trash… they also must bear the smell of it wherever they go.

    Sean Mulvihill

    Sean

  3. Mespo,
    Niven’s reaction was quick witted and priceless. I remember watching on TV as it happened, stoned then as usual and my only reaction was probably “Far Out!” Damn these Brits and their urbanity.

  4. Mike S:

    “I’m a fan of dry humor, though I was really aiming for droll. Oh well.”

    ******

    Here’s something to shoot for from the master of droll, David Niven, at the Academy Awards on a memorable night in 1974:

  5. Buddha,
    My father took me to a whole lot of English comedy’s in the 50’s. Alec Guinness was among the greatest of stars and Peter Sellers hadn’t yet been ruined by Hollywood. I’m a fan of dry humor, though I was really aiming for droll. Oh well.

  6. It has always seemed to me that the Gates incident sounded more like a stupid police overreaction to someone being a little obnoxious (like the incident reported here) than a racial one.

  7. The officer responded correctly. Those words used out loud and on the street could have caused a potential riot and was disturbing to the gathered police even though the guy arrested was a Harvard Professor. Oh sorry, wrong police arrest story.

  8. Not only “does (this) not seem like much of a free nation anymore”, to quote Alex — it unquestionably isn’t a free nation anymore. Many just don’t realize it yet.

  9. Though I am not one, this is why I am very thankful for lawyers.

    Thanks to all who fight the good fight.

  10. “The freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.” Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451, 462-463 (1987).

    This does not seem like much of a free nation anymore.

  11. Oh the Gay one huh? I know a couple of Pro Ball players that have an alternative life style and you know what they pitch damn straight.

    I generally dislike law enforcement officers as well. The only difference between some of them and the convicted criminal is just that. Conviction.

  12. From article linked: “D.C. attorney Luke Platzer, one of Tuma’s two friends to witness the arrest, said he and a second friend, attorney Dave Stetson, were approached by a D.C. police sergeant shortly after police drove Tuma to the station to process his arrest. Platzer said the sergeant, whose last name is Geer, told them he observed Tuma attempting to “resist” arrest in a disorderly way and asked them if they would give a statement confirming his observation.

    “We said, ‘No, we did not see that at all,’” Platzer told the Blade. “We thought he was trying to trick us into saying that there was physical resistance by Pepin to the arrest. That is not true.” ”
    ———

    It makes it kind of difficult to dummy up a police report if there are witness present.

    What I have noticed in stories about arrests and court cases is that there is a propensity to hit an alleged wrongdoer with a raft of charges in hope that something will stick, even in minor cases. Resisting arrest seems to have become miraculously co-joined with disturbing the peace.

    Every charge seems to have a pile-on of related and tangential charges associated. This isn’t good police woke, prosecution or justice IMO. This is just vindictive and designed to insure some, any, finding of guilt. This propensity befits oppression, not justice. What happened to just bringing someone up on the appropriate charge?

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