Felipe Fernandez-Armesto: British author jailed for jaywalking in Atlanta





[HNN Edior: HNN broke the following story over the weekend. Click here to watch a video interview with Professor Fernandez-Armesto.]

British historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, author of the 2006 book "Pathfinders: A Global History of Exploration," found the streets of downtown Atlanta much more difficult to navigate during last week's annual convention of the American Historians Association.

Fernandez-Armesto said he was handcuffed and jailed for jaywalking across Peachtree Center Avenue.

Police confirmed the Tufts University professor was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, said Officer Steve Coleman of the Atlanta Police Department.

Coleman said more details of the arrest were not readily available after hours when he was asked about the incident Monday night and police would not be able to comment.

Fernandez-Armesto said he was accosted by a man he did not know was a police officer — "I did not see a badge or any identification" — as he crossed the street.

"Where I come from, jaywalking is not a crime," he said. "It did not occur to me that there was anything wrong with what I was doing."

When the author of 19 books reached the other side of the street, he was met by the officer requesting identification.

"When I questioned who he was he said something to the effect of 'When I give you an order, you obey it,' " Fernandez-Armesto said. "I asked him what his authority was because I didn't see a badge. Where I'm from you don't associate young gentlemen in bomber jackets with the police. But he was extremely upset I had questioned his bona fides."

Fernandez-Armesto, 56, a former professor at Oxford, was unable to produce proper identification. "I had left my green card in my hotel room. I was puzzled. I was baffled, at a loss, really," he said. "While I was hesitating, he lost patience."

At that point, the slightly built historian said the officer kicked his legs under him and pinned him to the ground, causing his glasses to fall off. Two other officers assisted in holding him down, said Fernandez-Armesto, who said he suffered a gash on his forehead and a bruise on his wrist as he attempted to break his fall.

"It was the most violence I've ever experienced in my life," said Fernandez-Armesto. "And I was mugged once while at Oxford."...

[READER COMMENTS POSTED BELOW THE STORY ON THE AJC WEBSITE.]

Comments
By Mallorie
January 9, 2007 11:48 AM | Link to this
Welcome to Atlanta. How rude.

By Katie
January 9, 2007 11:50 AM | Link to this
Sounds like an overzealous police officer. Instead of arresting people for jaywalking, perhaps they should rather focus on the true crime in Atlanta…..you know the drug use, child abuse, rapes, murders, burglary, assaults…..you know the things that really impact us….not some foreigner who does not know how to cross the road. It is not like he is a true threat or anything. Geesh.

By Frankie
January 9, 2007 11:53 AM | Link to this
Welcome to Atlanta, the next Policed State. I am surprised that we have not heard about this on the televised news. Iguess with all the issues the APD is currently underfire for, they would have probably arrested the news reporter had they been on the scene. Thank your lucky stars that you were not murdered like the 92 year old woman last year for simply defending her property. That story has been swept under the shag carpet…(PROGRAM will not allow me write past this sentence, APD control)

By Frankie
January 9, 2007 11:57 AM | Link to this
However, i know that te APD has to do a good job but you would think that people skills are what they do best. As many people that J-walk in this city, it is ashame that that officer and his croneeys had no other crime to Thwart than a Ja walker, thank GOD it was not a little old lady, they may have shot her for asking to see ID. It is a wonder that Atlanta has any money in its budget from all the law suites they should be getting from the ignorant way their police force act…

By Tom
January 9, 2007 12:00 PM | Link to this
When I lived in Atlanta doing study at Georgia Tech the police acted the same way. It is an inbred trait of Atlanta police they think they are top dogs and can bully anyone. The Atlanta Police are a legal street gang that use blue as their color. My runnin was for telling an undercover dude that he should not block traffic. he came after me with a vengance. bad cops in Atlanta. When in Atlanta put your hands up so they do not have an excuse to shoot you.

By Tony
January 9, 2007 12:00 PM | Link to this
What a southern comfort !!! Dont the police have anything better to do.This incident is one good example how a police officer can misuse his power. Looks like police officers does not liek to be questioned. What a third world mind set !!!

By Tony
January 9, 2007 12:01 PM | Link to this
What a southern comfort !!! Dont the police have anything better to do.This incident is one good example how a police officer can misuse his power. Looks like police officers does not liek to be questioned. What a third world mind set !!!

By Tony
January 9, 2007 12:01 PM | Link to this
What a southern comfort !!! Dont the police have anything better to do.This incident is one good example how a police officer can misuse his power. Looks like police officers does not liek to be questioned. What a third world mind set !!!

By Tuan
January 9, 2007 12:05 PM | Link to this
This is only made me more ashamed of City of Atlanta, Fulton County, and the sub-par police department. The police officer at the scene should be fire. The city needs to stop hiring these low-class/low-IQ police officers. They are wasting tax-payer money trying to arrest a highly regards author for jay-walking instead of other crimes that affect this dump they call the City of Atlanta. The government in this city needs to pull their head out of their rear end and start fixing problems like this.

By harry bridges
January 9, 2007 12:09 PM | Link to this
Sounds like a well educated guy like this would check the local laws before entering a new city. I can’t beleive he was so stupid as to leave his green card in the hotel. Maybe he flunked common sense 101.

By Farmer
January 9, 2007 12:11 PM | Link to this
This is exactly why it is important not to judge people by their looks. Clearly the police have mistaken Fernandez-Armesto for one of the derelict homeless people Atlanta is spending so much time and energy trying to get rid of. LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE and fight REAL crime - lock up some of the corporate dope dealers in the Brooks Brother Suits - you are using the wrong profile APD!

By Chuck
January 9, 2007 12:14 PM | Link to this
IF the only story is the one told by the ‘victim’ here, then I would agree; Atlanta has a police-attitude problem. However, it seems to me that there may be another side to the story, but the AJC is known to color news to support its ultra liberal bias.


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