January 26, 2004
What we've got here is failure to communicate

From the Left Hand Does Not Know What The Right Hand Is Doing Dept.:

When the Downtown Entertainment District Alliance invited Jeff Towns and other art car owners to park their art on wheels on Main Street Friday, no one expected any hassles.

Instead, Towns was wrestled to the ground, handcuffed and detained by police officers who were unaware he had permission to park on Main Street.

Main Street, from Prairie to Texas, was closed to regular traffic Friday for the Main Event, but arrangements were made to let the art cars to park in front of bars and clubs.

Word apparently didn't make its way to officers on the street.

Metro Sgt. Curtis Holloway said he knew about the art car event, but had not briefed officers.

"I probably should have informed (the officer)," Holloway said. "(Towns) could have avoided it by simply providing his ID and permits to be there. That would have been the end of the situation. I'm certain of that."

Gosh, Sergeant Holloway, whatever gave you the idea that you screwed up by failing to give the officers proper information? Was it perhaps this?

Towns said he was approached by a Metro officer when he parked his "Accessorod" on Main Street.

The Metro officer, unaware of the art car event, asked Towns why he was parked illegally and demanded to see the Conroe resident's driver's license.

"The officer has a flashlight in my face and says, `What are you doing on this street?' ... to which I respond, `I'm part of the event here, sir,' " Towns said.

Towns, surprised and annoyed by the officer's demands, told the officer he should speak with Libby Weathers, entertainment alliance director.

When Towns did not immediately produce his license, the officer told him to get out of the car.

Donna Dommel, another art car owner, had just parked directly behind Towns' car as the confrontation took place.

"We had just pulled up, and I see the officer come at the car and throw (Towns) to the ground," she said.

Dommel co-owns the art car "R U Game?" with friend Kevin Munson, who was also detained when he began to argue with police during the incident.

Towns said the Metro officer threw him against the car and began to handcuff him.

When Towns noticed a Houston police officer approach, he thought the situation would be quickly resolved.

"But then, the (Houston) officer grabbed me by my hair and threw me to the ground," said Towns. He said his head hit one of the large white road bumps along the Metro rail line during the scuffle.

You know all that stuff about smiling to impress the out-of-town folks? Well, nothing will make them think we're a savage backwater faster than a little excessively zealous police work, especially when the root cause was trivially avoidable. At least no one got hurt this time, and the streets aren't full of Super Bowl visitors yet. Let's not mess up the easy stuff, OK?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 26, 2004 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack