Felipe Fernandez-Armesto: Atlanta Officials back officer in jaywalking case, while other historians say they were treated rudely by police

Historians in the News

As accusations mount about overzealous jaywalking enforcement by the Atlanta Police Department, city officials are standing behind the officer who arrested distinguished academic Felipe Fernandez-Armesto last Thursday for disorderly conduct.

When asked about the ongoing controversy during a Wednesday news conference, Mayor Shirley Franklin refused comment until the investigation of Officer Kevin Leonpacher's treatment of the history professor at Tufts University in Massachusetts is complete.

That inquiry is expected to last a couple of weeks, said Officer Joe Cobb of the Atlanta Police Department.

Meanwhile, more historians who attended last week's conference of the American Historians Association have come forward with tales of hostile treatment by officers trying to curb jaywalking across Courtland Street.

Monica Ricketts, a student at Harvard University in Massachusetts, said she was accosted by an officer while crossing from the Hilton Hotel to the Marriott Marquis Sunday morning.

"He started yelling at us, blowing a whistle as we were crossing the street," said Ricketts, a native Peruvian. "He got in my face and was pointing his finger at me. It was so bizarre.

"I asked him: Why are you yelling at us? He was furious."

One of her colleagues recognized the man as a police officer and apologized for jaywalking.

"He was very rude, very violent," Ricketts said of the officer. "It was a disgusting, horrible situation. I'm just glad I didn't end up in jail."
Read entire article at Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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