If you’ve seen the videos, you know where the title comes from. It was the exclamation Jason yelled when he realized Brooke was being placed under arrest.
Why is that important?
Well, some commenters have suggested that we wanted this to happen and/or staged this. This is patently untrue–Jason’s genuine shock and dismay are testament to that. (And certainly, if this is what we planned all along, you’d think Jason would have stuck around in the room to witness the entire arrest.)
You can believe me or choose not to, but that’s the way it was. We hoped, sincerely, that after she was handcuffed and put in the side room that they would let her go –thinking perhaps they took her in there just to scare her or intimidate us so that we would disperse. Of course, when they put her in the van to take her to jail, we all knew that this was for real and we felt we had to do something.
In our network of friends, a large number of people know Brooke. So, as it was going down, we all got on our phones and started calling our friends with well-read blogs and asked them to get the information out there. Knowing Brooke, and understanding the value of the story, they obliged us with the needed publicity to bring public pressure on the Park Police.
Technology allowed us to get the word out quickly — it had nothing to do with pre-planning anything. There is no way we could have launched this 10– or probably even five — years ago to the effect that we have. Just like “Don’t Tase Me Bro” and other web-based phenomena, this is a result of people with access to new media (and a few sympathetic media contacts, admittedly) spreading the word to get people’s attention.
Was this the most egregious thing to happen in the country that night? No. It probably wasn’t even the most egregious thing to happen in DC. But the incident’s severity is not the point.
To that end, several people have complained that there are larger and more terrible issues which require our attention. While this is certainly true, it does not follow that because there are worse things happening in the country and world that this should just be forgotten about. Our friend’s liberty was taken away– for asking a question. This, while in the grand scheme of things not the worst thing to ever happen, is not remotely acceptable and we are working very hard to correct that.
The Park Police would like nothing better than for this story to go away. They understand that people have short attention spans and something else in the news cycle will invariably eclipse the J-1. But when that happens, the pressure will be off of them and they can go back to business as usual–and that may include treating more people like they treated Brooke.
The Park Police must understand that they must not treat citizens like this. They must be brought to answer for what they did, no matter how slight it may appear to outsiders who didn’t spend five hours in a jail cell. Just as individuals who break the law must endure penalties, so too must the government be held accountable when they abuse the substantial power they wield.
Brooke is fighting this, as well she should, and she needs your help to do so effectively. For information on the Defense Fund, go here. Please give what you can to make sure the Park Police know this will not be tolerated here.