Dance Party at Jefferson Memorial Leads to Arrest


Warning. This video contains some coarse language.

But they’re right, this is total bullshit. A bunch of Libertarians got together, with their iPods, and headed over to the Jefferson Memorial to have a silent dance party for Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, as it was his birthday this weekend. One of the dancers was then arrested by the Park Police for dancing in the monument amongst a bunch of other dancers around midnight, as not to disturb tourists.

I’m still not clear on what she was arrested for, or exactly what the whole deal was with the Police who decided she needed to get hauled off because she wanted to get her groove on with Thomas Jefferson. You can read a personal account of the event, or another personal response about the event, and as Mike Licht points out, Jefferson himself said “Dancing is a healthy and elegant exercise, a specific against social awkwardness…”

But apparently, it will get you a bullshit arrest by a bunch of rentacops gone rogue. I understand that The Jefferson 1 was released, but I am not sure if charges are pending or not.

So much for Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness…

8 Comments so far

  1. shoegirl73 on April 14th, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

    I completely disagree with you. The US Park Police are not rogue rentacops – they are Federal Law Enforcement officers, who have just as much power as the DC Police do – their training is whole better in fact.

    There are laws when it comes to National Monuments and apparently they were breaking them.

    Learn your facts before you post random bullshit.

  2. Tom Bridge (tbridge) on April 14th, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

    Oh c’mon shoegirl, you don’t see the absolute bullshit here? Most of the security personnel at the monuments aren’t Park Police, all the guys you see in "Special Police" badges are really just rentacops. The "real" park police officer is the who puts the cuffs on the girl, not the guys in the black jackets.

    There’s NO excuse for this arrest. None. They weren’t disturbing the peace there, just dancing in celebration with one of our greatest presidents. There’s no reason for this arrest at all.

    There are laws when it comes to the monuments, but which one was she breaking by dancing?

  3. mikelicht on April 14th, 2008 @ 6:47 pm

    Dancing is a healthy and elegant exercise, a specific against social awkwardness . . . .

    — Thomas Jefferson

  4. David (dkoran) on April 14th, 2008 @ 8:57 pm

    Currently, it stand with Title 16 of the US Code, Chapter 1… I’m currently reviewing the law to find a point. But yes, the ones in dark blue with the "special police" sewn badges are "rent-a-cops", we have them in my workplace, and I can also confirm that they are also in the employ of the federal government at other buildings around town. Some are armed, but many are not, and are usually contracted for perimeter and entry security in that capacity. Most within any local federal facility are either unarmed or are supplemented by federal police. I’m not sure as to their law enforcement capacity, but for the ones I deal with, I’m curious as if they are granted a federal deputy status to be able to carry a weapon on federal and international property (embassies, World Bank/IMF, etc.).

  5. David (dkoran) on April 14th, 2008 @ 8:57 pm

    I did forget to post the Columbia Law US Code Archive URL:

  6. David (dkoran) on April 14th, 2008 @ 9:53 pm

    Okay Sports fans, while the Internet is great, it’s quite foggy about this particular law enforcement branch and their duties, jurisdictions and enforcement authority. While you can Google the history, it’s gonna be tough to find out what the Department of the Interior’s private police force actually can do (don’t cha love it!)

    First off, there’s a bit of background due to a discussion on DOI’s appropriations via the GAO website:


    The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to designate state and local law enforcement personnel as special police in the National Park System, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1a-6(c)(1) (1988). The Secretary is also authorized to cooperate in enforcing state or local laws within national parks located in those jurisdictions. 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1a 6(c)(2). Accordingly, the Park Police maintain memoranda of understanding with local law enforcement agencies in Virginia and Maryland which provide that upon request of the Park Police, local law enforcement personnel may enter areas of the National Park System to act as special police. The memoranda delineate when and how assistance may be provided.

    The memoranda also state that the costs of furnishing services are borne by the agency furnishing services and that no claims for reimbursement shall be made by one jurisdiction against another. However, the memoranda do not presently protect local jurisdictions against claims by third parties injured by police action, although the Deputy Solicitor states that he is "aware of no case where a claim has been made against either the United States or a local law enforcement agency when its employees assisted the Park Police under a memorandum of understanding." Proposed revisions of the memoranda of understanding invoke Virginia and Maryland laws requiring indemnification clauses in law enforcement reciprocal agreements. The laws are identical, requiring that any reciprocal agreement include indemnification clauses which:

    "waive any and all claims against the other parties thereto which may arise out of their activities outside their respective jurisdictions under such agreement; and indemnify and save harmless the other parties for property damage or personal injury which may arise out of the activities of the other parties to such agreement outside their respective jurisdictions under such agreement."

    Va. Code Ann. Sec. 15.1-131 (1989); Md. Crim. Law Code Ann. Art. 27, Sec. 602B(d) (1987).

    The submission states that the Maryland and Virginia jurisdictions will not execute any reciprocal aid agreement without such indemnification clauses and that these jurisdictions seek to include the clauses in any future proposed memoranda of understanding with the Park Police. The Deputy Solicitor notes that state and local law enforcement officers serving as special federal officers under memoranda of understanding with the Park Police are federal employees for purposes of the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Federal Employees Compensation Act. See 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1a-6(d). However, the submission notes that this protection is apparently insufficient to meet the statutory requirements of Maryland and Virginia. While protecting the individual police officers, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1a-6(d) "may not provide complete protection for the two states," and local and state governments would remain subject to liability.

    So we’re kind of left, if I read this right, that the U.S. Park Police are supposed to enforce the local laws (no federal status or U.S. Code is strictly defined here), and in this case, at the Jefferson Memorial, it’s in Washington, D.C.. So, let’s look at local D.C. Law… since they are supposed to "operate" like D.C. cops:

    Well, after digging through sections to deal with bigamy, dog fighting, flying fire baloons… and the "dueling challenges’ (luckily repealed)… we come to two sections that _may_ apply… that which is part of Division IV, Title 22, Subtitle 1, Chapter 13 – ‘Disturbing the Peace", and Chapter 18 – "General Offenses", which state in these sections:

    § 22-1307. Unlawful assembly; profane and indecent language. – if the persons in the video (before the edit) were obstructing movement and using coarse language… USPP has a right to enforce… but I didn’t see it in the video.

    § 22-1314.02. Prohibited acts. – section two (2), notes the noise clause which could have gotten them in trouble, but if they had earphones in… natch… they’re good, and not in violation (provided no screaming was going on as well).

    And of course, the blanket provision we all love – § 22-1321. Disorderly conduct. – which covers noise ordinances… however, the Jefferson Memorial is as far removed from anybody that could be disturbed unless you fired cannon shot from within the rotunda… so, I think the USPP are a tad off there as well.

    So, as I read it, unless they were flying pimps and ho’s in via flaming parachutes while screaming obscenities and a religious gathering attempting to leave the Jefferson Memorial… these folks, were free and clear to do what they wanted to do to celebrate, regardless of the time of day or action taking place. Gotta love the police state!

  7. David (dkoran) on April 14th, 2008 @ 10:01 pm

    Sorry for being a crank… two other links worth noting (since I had to dig a bit to find these):
    Notes the following: for "felonies", they can arrest … um, dancing a felony?

    And this court docket notes how "thin" the enforcement rules really are (even though it did result in a conviction, they had to fish for a reason to charge the guy):

    Promise, I’ll stop… however, think about what was done and the reaction of both parties…

  8. Tiffany Bridge (tiffany) on April 15th, 2008 @ 10:19 am

    According to other accounts of the incident, the reason given for the arrest was "interference with agency function," which is basically the Park Police equivalent of "disorderly conduct," which is the catch all for "we’re arresting you because we feel like it." The officer demanded that the group disperse, the woman in question asked "Why?" and was immediately arrested, while the officer told the other people to "Shut the fuck up." So no, no laws were broken, and if the Park Police’s training is so great, the officer certainly should have acquitted himself more professionally. The group in question was fewer than 25 people, so no permit was required. They were using iPods, so they were making no disruptive noise. They chose to go late at night so as to reduce the number of tourists there they could potentially be in the way of. Park Police or rentacop, someone abused his power and now some woman who wasn’t doing anything but asking agents of the government to explain their actions now has an arrest record. Nice.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.