Benjamin Franklin allegedly once said,
Those who would give up Essential Liberty
to purchase a little Temporary Safety,
deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
A moment ago, after witnessing the police harassing a woman without probable cause, I felt compelled to give the waitress my butter knife.
For my own safety.
I frequently eat lunch at the casino restaurant across the street from my office. Today, as I came in, I noticed a Coven of Deputy District Attorneys seated a few tables away.
I know some of those DDAs. Individually, they can be very nice people. In fact, part of me hates to even write this article because I don’t really want to alienate any of them unnecessarily.
The key word, of course, is “unnecessarily.”
But I just witnessed something that happens all-too-often around here. And it needs to be discussed.
It needs to be discused because as nice and as good-intentioned as they are — and let me be clear that I really do believe they’re good-intentioned — put them together in a coven and, well — you’ve probably heard of group-think.
The problem is that too many DDAs see dead people crimes being committed everywhere.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Not at that moment fearing for my own safety in doing so, I sat to eat my lunch a few tables away. The tables between us were all empty.
A young woman, looking somewhat distressed, pushing a stroller, and with her young daughter accompanying her, made the mistake of sitting at one of those tables.
The woman appeared to be in some amount of pain. She situated her daughter. She then sat, much of the time with her elbows on the table and her head propped between her hands. A waitress approached. She ordered food for her daughter.
I eventually realized — because I overheard her on the phone with someone — that she had apparently just had oral surgery. Two of her teeth had apparently been pulled. I heard her telling someone that she did not think she could stay. She was waiting for the food she’d ordered to be brought and was thinking of getting it to go and just wanted to be picked up.
Her daughter, a very cute little girl, sat beside her, playing with the silverware. She would pick up a fork and hit it on the table a couple times. She picked up spoons and banged them together. It was distracting, but not overly so until she picked up the butter knives and began to bang them together, as she had with the other pieces of silverware.
Then the DDAs sprang into action.
One got up and went somewhere else — at first, I thought she’d just gone to the restroom — while another approached the young girl, took the butter knives away and said to the mom that the little girl should not be playing with butter knives. I realized in that moment that I would have been a horrible father, because I’d watched the little girl drumming the butter knives together and had seen nothing dangerous about it. A waitress later told me that she, too, is a horrible mother, because her children have done the same thing and she didn’t think to stop them.
As mom would later tell the police: “They were butter knives!”
You already know what happened next. The other DDA had not gone to the bathroom. She’d moved away to a safer place from which to call the cops.
I had already informed one of the concerned DDAs that I’d overheard the woman on the phone. I told her what I’d heard. The DDA would later tell me that the woman had been in here before “using the same excuse.” I suggested it was possible she had bad teeth. I received a kindly smile obviously meant to indicate tolerance for my naiveté. ((The waitresses and a manager later said they’d never seen the woman in there before.))
The police showed up, as I said, and the DDAs led them to the woman. I was, ironically, supposed to be leaving for a meeting with another police officer, who wishes to discuss something with one of my clients. I called to reschedule.
The officers would not accept the woman’s explanation. Someone told me that the officers said they have interacted with the woman in the past, although I’ve no idea what for. Their prior interaction was supposed to give them special insight into the idea that, although no one except the DDAs and the cops believed this, there was probable cause for them to question her relentlessly, doubt her story, insist on getting the mother’s phone number and calling her mother on the phone to verify part of her story, and, eventually, escort her from the restaurant. ((But not before I gave her my card and suggested she stop talking. Although I doubt I could represent her now — and, believe me, I’d love to — I told her that I did see and hear enough to be able to support her story if needed as a witness.))
The woman pleaded to know why they were questioning her. She said she just wanted to get food for her daughter and go home. She bemoaned the fact that she’d decided to walk into the restaurant, wishing she had chosen, instead, to go straight home. As an officer spoke on his phone with the woman’s mother, the woman began trying to call other people she knew to come and get her. I wanted very much to stop what was happening — as, by the way, did several employees watching. ((Many of them stopped by to whisper to me that they could not understand how this sort of behavior on the part of the officers was justified. I assured them it really wasn’t. Subsequently, there was some discussion about whether management could ban the DDAs from eating there anymore, since, according to the wait staff, this happens too frequently, which is why I’m writing about it.))
Eventually, the woman was escorted from the establishment by officers, who said they were going to stand by the curb with her until whoever was coming to get her came and got her.
Because this is the new America. This, the land of the free, home of the brave, is what we’ve become: the land where people are so scared that we expect something bad is going to happen any time we see something that, to us, is out of the ordinary. In this police state in which we live, you don’t dare let yourself be seen in public after oral surgery. You don’t dare allow your child to act as a child.
And, if you’re smart and value your safety, you don’t sit anywhere near a Coven of Deputy District Attorneys.
I’m just sayin’.
And if any of you prosecutors do stop by here, don’t be angry at me.
Just be ashamed.