Arizona Police Arrest “Jaywalking” Professor in Racially-Charged Incident

Arizona earned its reputation for police excess yet again recently when an officer demanded identification of an African-American pedestrian — for the crime of walking in a campus street to avoid construction on the sidewalk — and got violent when she refused to produce it.

Arizona State University professor Ersula Ore was walking around some construction on the Tempe college campus last month when an ASU police officer stopped her. Before she could even explain why she was walking in the street, he asked her for ID. When she bristled at the request, he threatened her with arrest. Before long, he had slammed her violently to the ground, her body exposed, and his hands in all the wrong places.

“The reason I’m talking to you right now is because you’re walking in the middle of the street,” Officer Stewart Ferrin told Ore when he stopped her. “That’s called obstruction of a public thoroughfare.”

“I’ve been here for over three years and everybody walks this street,” she replied. “Everybody’s been doing this because it’s all obstructed. That’s the reason why. But you stop me in the middle of street to pull me over and you ask me, ‘Do you know what this is? This is a street — ’”

“This is a street,” Ferrin interjects.

Then he demands that she put her hands behind her back, she demands that he take his hands off her, and trigger warnings start to fly.

Police officers — even in Arizona — can only require a person to present ID when they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe there’s criminal activity going on. The criminal activity in this case is walking — some would say “walking while black.”

By the end of the altercation, once Ore is already in handcuffs, another officer tells her to relax, as if he’s talking to a 3-year-old having a tantrum. “How am I supposed to relax when something this unjust is happening to me?” she asks him. “You can talk about it,” he counsels her.

Even worse, Ore was only walking in the street because the sidewalk was blocked for construction — and it apparently had been for quite a while. Tempe’s public works regulations state that “all sidewalks shall remain open” during construction. The city’s building codes require a walkway to be provided and pedestrians to be protected if construction interferes with pedestrian travel.

What happened to Ore is not unique to Arizona. Other police departments also target pedestrians for enforcement, sometimes violently.

Ore has been charged with aggravated assault. The police officers have been cleared of all wrongdoing.

  • sheldonperry

    Too bad you weren’t more intellectually honest. Cherry picking the parts you like to support what you want to believe isn’t very admirable. The entire quote from Kennedy is as follows:

    “As we understand it, the statute does not require a suspect to give the officer a drivers license or any other document. Provided that the suspect either states his name or communicates it to the officer by other means—a choice, we assume, that the suspect may make—the statute is satisfied and no violation occurs.”

    At no point does Professor Ore offer her name, let alone be cooperative in any way. Her attitude was combative from the start. The officer was very patient with her and gave all kinds of opportunity to ID herself, but she failed and was instead belligerent and combative. Why doesn’t this sink in with you? Is it really that hard? Arizona is a “Stop and identify” state. So are about half the states in the U.S. Get used to it.

  • “Morons”? If you have to stoop to this level of insult, you have lost the argument.

  • sheldonperry

    Yes a moron, which is an accurate use of the term in this case. You think it wise to assault, I repeat, assault a police officer after being arrested? You’re such a hypocrite complaining about “insults” too. Up above in another post, you refer to the police as “little monsters”. Get real and stop being selective in your outrage.

    And you can’t refute what I said so you focus on something immaterial to the debate. Typical.

  • jaarendt

    “In contrast to the “credible and reliable” identification requirement in Kolender, the Nevada Supreme Court has interpreted the instant statute to require only that a suspect disclose his name. It apparently does not require him to produce a driver’s license or any other document. If he chooses either to state his name or communicate it to the officer by other means, the statute is satisfied and no violation occurs.”
    from the syllabus of the Hiibel case

  • University professor with advanced degree is obviously not a moron. Maybe a little thin skinned when dealing with the cops. Also, if you peruse this list, I recommended peaceful refusal, not resisting. Still not clear to me if she kicked at the cop because he was putting his hand where he had no right to do so.

  • trufe

    I did not quote that part because we all agree she has to state her name if asked. He did not ask for her name.

    “I am asking for your license.”

    “Let me see your ID.”

    “Let me see your ID, or you will be arrested. That is the law, I am explaining the law to you.”

    “Give me your ID.”

    “Put your hands behind your back.”

    If I am a lawyer and get to pick my side (as to the legality of the initial arrest), based on the transcript and contents of the video I will take my chances with her rather than him.

    Look, could she have handled it better? Probably.

    But I have a hard time criticizing a person when the police officer completely mishandles the situation, misstates the law, acts in an overly aggressive manner, and is at least 75% responsible for the quick escalation of the confrontation.

  • HighNoon

    Go back to my first post. You are making assumptions about the officer’s behavior by saying we only know what is in the video. Yet, you go on to say that we don’t know what the professor does off the video. Here are direct quotes from your first post.

    Quote #1: Did the cops stop her for “walking while black?” We can’t say for sure
    they DIDN’T….but there’s certainly nothing in the video to indicate in
    the slightest way that they DID.

    Quote #2: We don’t see what Professor Ore was doing before the video starts.

    You are entitled to your opinion, but your mouth and mind don’t seem to be in agreement here. I didn’t say anything about my input, but I appreciate your inferences.

  • I’m left wondering if this law applies unless jaywalking is considered a crime in AZ rather than an infraction. Also, if the officer demanded ID rather than demanding she identify herself, he goofed. On the other hand, she could have handled this a lot less confrontationally. As I said earlier, it takes two to tango, and I think, to be honest, we had two willing dancers.

    Only other possibility is that if this was on campus, there may be some campus code that requires showing campus ID to campus police. But that would be a code of conduct issue, not a criminal offense unless that too is in AZ law.

    Here is the law:

    2010 Nevada Code
    TITLE 14 PROCEDURE IN CRIMINAL CASES
    Chapter 171 Proceedings to Commitment

    NRS 171.123 Temporary detention by peace officer of person suspected of criminal behavior or of violating conditions of parole or probation:
    Limitations.

    NRS 171.123 Temporary detention by peace officer of person suspected of criminal behavior or of violating conditions of parole or probation:
    Limitations.

    1. Any peace officer may detain any person whom the
    officer encounters under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.

    2. Any peace officer may detain any person the officer encounters under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has violated or is violating the conditions of the person’s parole or probation.

    3. The officer may detain the person pursuant to this section only to ascertain the person’s identity and the suspicious circumstances surrounding the person’s presence abroad. Any person so detained shall
    identify himself or herself, but may not be compelled to answer any other inquiry of any peace officer.

    4. A person must not be detained longer than is reasonably necessary to effect the purposes of
    this section, and in no event longer than 60 minutes. The detention must not extend beyond the place or the immediate vicinity of the place where the detention was first effected, unless the person is arrested.

    (Added to NRS by 1969, 535; A 1973, 597; 1975, 1200; 1987, 1172; 1995, 2068)

  • Joe

    Your mind and mouth both seem confused. Let me try to help you.

    The (primary) issue at hand is the incindiary accusation, not so subtly implied by Tanya Snyder in this post, and of course amplified by people in the comments section like yourself, that the two officers are racists.

    As I pointed out in my comment, there is, in fact, NOTHING in the video (or anywhere else that I know of) to support this accusation. You have repeatedly attacked me, but you haven’t pointed out anything in the video that supports the accusation…because, of course, you can’t.

    The fact that racial predjudice exists, and that other police may have treated other people unfairly in other places and times, has no bearing on what we see in this video.

    As for your “devestating” quotes from my original post: both are true statements of fact, and neither conflicts with the other in any way. There is nothing in the video that indicates the officers acted with racial predjudice; and, since we don’t see Professor Ore’s actions prior to the start of the video, we can’t say the police were unjustified in initiating the encounter (those of us who want to be honest).

    Of course, you are entitled to your own emotional reactions, but it is irresponsible for you, and especially for the post author, to make incindiary accusations without evidence.

    Your attacks on me do not change the facts.

  • Nathanael

    People don’t focus on DA elections for some reason. I think it has a chance of being effective.

  • Monty Simmons

    I am just surprised the officer did not get her address off her ID and go to her house and shot her dog.

    But I doubt race had anything to do with it no more than race has anything to do with the “knock out game.”

  • Jan Schreuder

    You are the moron, I repeat you are the moron. Oh beautiful argument. Lovely logic. And maybe you should read that decision again. “under circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime”;Try to understand these words. Good luck

  • RalphEllison

    I agree. She should have just given him her i.d. She is a professor, so she would have later discovered he can’t ask her for her i.d. for walking in the street. A picture of the construction would have done the trick.

    Most police officer are decent, if you treat them with respect. However, you simply never know if you are dealing with the 25% who are psychopaths. Best to just put your pride away and “yes sir/ma’am” your way out of their clutches as fast as possible. But – don’t concede to a search of your car.

  • bg

    You see I did exclude driving. Not surprising that you missed that, being someone who would join the military. What did that get you?

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