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Ideat Case Continued
by Thomas MacMillan | Jul 11, 2012 11:55 am
Posted to: Legal Writes
Art festival organizer Bill Saunders was dressed to impress Wednesday when he showed up to answer charges of inciting a riot. But he didn’t get to show the judge his special “political art” cummerbund.
The case was continued to Aug. 14 without any court appearance.
Saunders was arrested Saturday June 30 when cops showed up to a punk rock show in Pitkin Plaza. The concert was part of the Ideat Village arts festival that Saunders organizes each year. Click the play arrow above to see new footage of the incident courtesy of www.re-know.info.
The police had received noise complaints from tenants at 360 State, the high-rise apartment building which borders Ideat Village and with which Ideat Village has had an ongoing feud.
Police asked Saunders (at left in photo—and right and center) for his festival permit. He didn’t have it on him, and told cops his co-organizer Nancy Shea had it around the corner at the festival’s art gallery.
Saunders then took the microphone and told the crowd the police were on the scene. He suggested the cops might have to arrest other people if he gets arrested.
The police arrested Saunders on charges of inciting a riot, interfering with officers, and disorderly conduct.
Saunders claims police tackled him and used unnecessary force, as do witnesses to the incident. Police claimed he resisted arrest and fought them. A crowd gathered, taunting the officers. The cops used pepper spray on the crowd.
Saunders was bruised in the incident. Two police officers were treated for minor injuries. Police Officer Betsy Segui was placed on sick leave, with a fractured hand and injured ankle.
Shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday, a dozen Saunders supporters gathered on the steps of the Elm Street courthouse. Robert Zott, who took photos of the arrest, produced handheld masks of Saunders’ face. Attorney Irving Pinsky held a sign reading, “Stop the war on music.”
Saunders showed up with his long hair pulled back, wearing a black suit, purple shirt, and a special cummerbund with “TownY” stenciled on it.
The word, which was also stenciled on the shirts of several Saunders supporters, has appeared in various locations around town in recent weeks. “It’s political street art,” Saunders said. It means that “we as townies are stuck in a town ruled by ... Yale.”
“I am a white 47 year old male who’s well known in town,” he said. If the police were willing to mistreat him in front of 50 witnesses, he said, “what chance does a black kid in the hood have?”
At the time of his arrest, Saunders told police that he would be suing them for his arrest. Asked about that on Wednesday, Saunders said, “I’ve got to clear my name first.”
Inside the courthouse, Saunders learned that the case had been continued to Aug. 14. He huddled with his attorney, Frank Velardi, who was looking over the police report.
“Obviously there’s a difference of opinion” between what the report says and what Saunders and witnesses say happened, Velardi said. Velardi refused to share the report with reporters.
Velardi said he’ll be interviewing witnesses between now and the next court date.
Asked how Saunders will plea to the charge, Velardi said, “We’ll address that on Aug. 14.”
Tags: Ideat Village, Bill Saunders, Pitkin Plaza, 360 State
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The pissing contest continues.
Someday, I am going to set up a website: biggestjerk.com. I will post my take on all these ego driven head butting contests; Harvard Prof vs. Cambridge Police (both winners), and now this.
I thought the winner was going to be 360 State Street, but now I am thinking it is Bill Saunders by a long shot.
On second thought, I won’t bother. My mother has better things to do than read my blog.
Oddly enough, I purchased that suit at Fashionista on Dec. 10th for an art opening the next day.
Dec. 10th happens to be the date on the famous Jim Morrison mugshot….
The more I learn about this, the more respect i lose for Saunders.
The last minute of the video is disturbing - when we as a society accept someone repeatedly screaming obscenities at policemen and policewomen, how can we expect the various elements of our society to respect the rule of law?
There are dozens of oppressive regimes around the world that would be happy to have you as a citizen! Some (myself included) believe that using free speech to call out the ugliness of oppression is paying the highest respect to the rule of law. Jefferson said that “If this country… ever tramples on the rights of its people, the people don’t merely have a right to revolt, they ARE EXPECTED to revolt.” Revolution is ugly and runs counter to the cowering suburban values that insist upon quiet and conformity at all costs. But as an eyewitness to the entire event, I applaud Bill for reflecting the ugliness that was undeservedly unleashed upon him.
If you want the police to show you respect, you must treat them in the same manor. These people clearly did not.
“I am a white 47 year old male who’s well known in town,” he said. If the police were willing to mistreat him in front of 50 witnesses, he said, “what chance does a black kid in the hood have?”
That statement right there is just ridiculous. The video at the top of the page shows the privilege the the crowd at ideat, and Bill Saunders take for granted everyday. dozens of folks [very closely] surrounding two cops making an arrest, Bill Saunders apparently trying to incite a crowd, and the cops being harassed and chased to their squad car. I guess folks with a certain race/class identity and analysis might think Bill Saunders was harassed by the police, but I say he and the folks at ideat, are lucky no one was seriously injured. I am going to laugh when Bill Saunders gets hit with a large fine, and if this gets dropped, then that in and of itself blatantly will display the systemic, institutionalized, discrimination in the criminal justice system.
no self reflection at all.
posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on July 11, 2012 3:22pm
While Bill’s rant was misguided, it’s tone was also relatively mild compared to what I’ve heard other people say to police. In the video, I wish Bill had stuck to criticizing the merits of his arrest, rather than pulling the I-Know-Powerful-People Card in desperation, but honestly, I can’t blame him too much because if I had been tackled and restrained for walking away from police, my anger would probably get the best of me too. After all, Bill was put under arrest in the same manner as a Magnum-wielding ex-convict (http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/a_chase_in_the_dark/). So really, what’s more disturbing - someone cursing at police, or a non-violent citizen being detained like a fleeing armed convict?
To those criticizing Bill’s behavior, you should consider that this was moments after he was violently thrown to the ground and arrested. He had not broken any laws, he had a permit for the event and he posed no threat to the police nor the public. After spending many months of sleepless nights organizing this festival, he was hog-tied and hauled away over impatience to wait for a permit that was two blocks away. The officers handled the situation in about the worst way I can possibly imagine and he let some angry words slip—can you really blame him?
Every year Bill and a dozen other local heroes organize this fantastic festival, which provides an audience for hundreds of local artists and provides FREE entertainment for a the masses. Every year, the have to bend over backwards and turn yet another cheek as the city heaps on additional restrictions, exorbitant fees and generally tries to make it very difficult for the festival to continue. It’s simply absurd.
I think the bigger question is, how can we as a society accept police officers who do not respect the rule of law? You might scream obscenities too when your adrenaline is pumping after being attacked and slammed to the ground without cause. You might be dazed after such an attack that leaves you bleeding from the head. It doesn’t sound to me like the arresting officers maintained any professionalism after Bill was in cuffs either. I definitely saw at least one video where one of the officers continues to turn around and curse back at the crowd as they are leading Bill to the cruiser. She let her emotions get the better of her and let some obscenities fly as well, so why is Bill the only one criticized for his words during the incident? I expect more professionalism from the police during an arrest. And the pepper-spraying was clearly unnecessary. Period.
wasn’t specifically referring to the arrest of Bill Saunders when making my comment. More commenting that I’m surprised the police, obviously feeling threatened by the crowd, showed such restraint. I think with a different crowd of folks, their reaction would have been much different.
posted by: Josh Levinson on July 11, 2012 4:25pm
Out of curiosity, how does one incite a riot without an actual… riot?
Saunders comes off as a real ??????? (deleted to save time for editors) in the film, and the cops show extraordinary patience,
They should be congratulated for their forbearance
Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect?
I’m amazed at how many are willing to focus on Bill’s lack of respect for the police and completely disregard the senseless assault that he received moments earlier at the hands of the police. Is Bill a loudmouth? You betcha’. But he’s a loudmouth who has selflessly served and defended the arts and music community of New Haven for over a dozen years. Everyone at this gathering knew Bill; everyone except the police, that is.
Like Schroedinger’s famous cat, the police should know that their mere presence has an affect on any situation. If this was ONLY a case of a missing permit, they could have easily waited for it to arrive. If this was ONLY a case of noise, the volume could have easily been turned down. Then why wasn’t it???
The PRESENCE of the police, who were wittingly or unwittingly dancing to the tune described in the 360 State Street e-mail, CREATED the volatile situation. Does this mean that they shouldn’t do their job? Absolutely not: no one is asking for anarchy. Should the realization that their presence has an affect interfere with their objectives? Absolutely not: the needs of the whole community must be balanced. But in this case the police allowed a clearly non-violent gathering to turn volatile by ignoring the effect their presence had on the situation.
Officer Segui did not call for backup until the crowd got angry because they were hurting Bill ostensibly over a permit and noise. [We have identified the precise second that she called.] Prior to that point, there was no threat of a riot, unless you consider 30 people lounging with lattes and iPhones dangerous. Bill was right: this was a rookie mistake—and I admire his clarity in a moment of what would be sheer defenseless terror for anyone else. Had the police simply been able to say okay, Bill got pissy because we’re crashing the party, they still would have gotten everything they needed without injury (to Bill, those who were pepper sprayed, or themselves) or wasting taxpayer dollars on a go-nowhere case.
Dear Police Chief, while you’re busy praising your officers for their so-called restraint, was there a real crime here? I didn’t see one. What I did see was two poorly trained officers who exercised extremely poor judgement that resulted in a volatile situation. Who’s to blame for that?
Dear Editor: Please change the two occurrences of “affect” to “effect” in my recent post.
This whole arrest is whats known as “cherry picking”. These union led cops could have been arresting a real criminal in a city that has tons of desperate criminals that steal from their own family/neighbors but instead chose to mess with an easy target. Its similar to arresting a bunch of drunk Yalies who would not have done harm to even a sewer rat. This town is out of hand and the police union only gives a damn about paychecks, not the city they are sworn to protect.
Whats ironic here is I dont even like Bill Saunders much and here I am defending him.
I’m disgusted by this.
Let me clue you into something, the police are NOT in the business of backing down. If they warn you that if you walk away they are going to arrest you, what they mean is that if you walk away, you ARE going to jail. Right or wrong, that how it works. They are not willing to back down because the stakes are too high.
Another tip, what important person do you have on call to “f___ up” arresting officers? The Mayor? If Destefino was on board with you and Ideat, any chance he would tell Chief Esterman to pass the word to ignore 350 State, or leave you all alone? I don’t care if you are tight with Yale’s leadership and friends with a District Manager or two. Nobody’s carrier is going to take a hit. It is just not going to happen.
As a friend of mine says to his clients, “I don’t tell you how to live, but when you are in front of the judge, lose the gold and the cammies.”
robertzott, have you ever been to any of these oppressive countries (or perhaps married someone who grew up in such a country)? Easy words to throw around. The kind of restraint the NHPD showed would never happen. Nor would Ideat, never mind the NHI and its comment section.
I do take issue with Officer Betsy Segui use of profanity as inflammatory and unprofessional. However, if I were arresting someone, and some else was standing right over me, they would be going into the same van.
Inciting a riot does not require a riot. It just requires trying to get people to riot. Yelling, “If you arrest me, you are going to have to arrest a lot of other people.” will do.
For the record, I am in favor of this festival. While I have never been—not my cup of tea—I think it is part of what makes New Haven such a culturally rich city. As a Celt, I am all for sticking it to The Man. As a creative person, I have been the nail that sticks up, that keep getting hit. So one last idea, don’t just pick your battles, evaluate your methods. Winning over the chorus is useless if the pews are empty.
When the police say youre under arrest, your under arrest. You don’t get to walk away. You don’t get to try to leave. At that point in time when the police say your under arrest you no longer have the freedom to walk away, even if you disagree with being arrested.
The fact is Bill Saunders put himself in this position. Clearly he is an elitest and loves this attention. I watch the video and the crowd is way way to close. Honestly, if I was a police supervisor I would uae this video as a training tool and instruct officers that they need to physically control a loud riotess crowd before loosing control of the situation.
There were literally people inches away from cops while they struggled with Saunders while putting cuffs on him. Very damgerous.
As cops are trained to NEVER underestimate anyone during arrest, the police in my opinion should have demanded thr cowd to back up, which they did, and when the cleary did not comply those people should have also been placed under arrest, which they were not.
Please, NHPD, dont treat the lawless public with kid-gloves because of the fear of lawsuits. One of your officers might get hurt.
God bless the officers
Funny you should ask…. I have both been to, and married a citizen from one of, the countries of which I spoke. While I have no desire to relay family stories or compare levels of senseless violence, this incident did bear one stunning similarity in the degree of stupidity shown by the police. I’m not asking for them to “back down;” I’m calling for them to think after they show up.
robertzott: You are embarrassing yourself - and not just with grammar errors. Saunders was arrested for attempting to incite a riot. Not noise, not missing permits. When the police came and asked for a permit Saunders took the microphone and ‘suggested’ that many people should be getting arrested if he is getting arrested. Doesn’t take a genius to see what he was suggesting. Then when told to stay where he was, he attempted to walk away.
It is the job of police to keep control of volatile situations. When police give an order, deciding not to comply makes you a criminal (whether you think you know important people or not).
I am also a HUGE fan of the music and arts scene in the city and have been known to be at events under the influence. However, I don’t see why people like Saunders have to be difficult. He knows the city is watching - why would be not have the permit in his pocket? He knows the cops are going to be jumpy when there is a hostile crowd - why provoke?
Even setting aside the issue of unnecessary violence, the fact that on duty officers working in the downtown area were unaware of what activities were occurring in the city during their duty hours seems at least completely disorganised and at worst, dangerous and unprofessional. One would have assumed that police would know their local area, would get briefed on community events in public spaces, and would be aware of what temporary public space use permits have been issued in their particular area.
Also, as for Bill swearing - who cares? Cops are paid to protect us all and part of that involves keeping their cool in situations in which people may act stupidly and irrationally. That’s why we should respect the work they do, not because the have a weapon and a set of handcuffs.
BILL’S an old hand at this kind of thing…his temper got a bit frayed, but this debacle will only increase ideat village’s popularity and hipness quotient!!!!...the cops, and the tenants at pitkin came out smellin like assmeat on the other hand!!
Free speech or not, it was stupid to taunt and antagonize and disrespect the police. They should have done their jobs while keeping their tempers in check, but it is downright stupid to try them like that.
If Bill was an upstanding citizen, he would have paused the show long enough to get the permit, then carry on. He would have asked the cops to use the noise meters that the department owns to measure the volume. If he had remained calm and handled the situation like a responsible adult, and not a teenager, it would have gone down differently.
I’m not absolving the cops of blame, but let’s not make Saunders into some kind of folk hero for being a troublemaker and cursing them out.
FYI: Nancy, not Bill was the designated permit holder. For Bill to be in possession of the permit, would be be in violation of contractual terms. One person is designated to hold all permits as required by the city of New Haven. Nancy was that person. Also, to say that Bill is an elitist is hilarious. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
@ Curious: Bill Saunders was a folk hero long before this event ever happened. Which is part of why the aforementioned actions of police and 360 State are so disturbing. He is much loved and has touched the lives of thousands through his many years of peaceful contribution to the artistic community. He has earned respect by being loyal, sturdy and stalwart. He has an amazing track record which cannot be discounted here by the babbling few who clearly have little to no understanding of the reality of this situation. Bill has fully earned my support, and I can only thank him.
Bill’s actions got him arrested, simple as that. If you think the police reacted too harshly, then you have never had to use force before. Had Bill put his ego in check and waited with the police for the permit to arrive, there would not have been a problem. Instead, he walked away after being told to stay put. Put the latte and iPhone down and do a ride-along with the cops on a busy night.
robertzott, me too, and I know why the Chinese do not trust the police, or have anything to do with them. I find that people who grow up in a police state do not trust the police, just fear them.
GeeLow, I have met Bill Saunders, and I don’t see how he is elitist in anyway. Arrogant I will grant you. Maybe “elitist” is like “socialist,” a taunt that cannot be disproved.
There is a saying in boating, “He was right, dead right, but he is dead right now anyway.” Sometimes one is better off backing down rather than throwing down.
Yes, the NHPD could have done better. theresatwist is right. Officers ought to have been briefed on events taking place in their area of responsibility, including this festival.
The cynic in me belives that our mayor has a totem pole of precedence. Winstaley trumps 350 State since the former is still bringing in big construction projects. 350 State is a big construction project completed, so it trumps the hippy festival Ideat. I see his hand in this.
Maybe Bill’s ego was in check, and he was concerned about the performers, the schedule, and the show.
Abdelnoir, watch the videos. Does Bill seem peaceful? Stalwart? No. He acted like a punk, and got treated like one. A responsible person would not have done what he did. Someone who cared more about the concert than making a show of being disobedient to the police would have stopped the fest for ten minutes while they settled the issue peacefully and in his favor.
Curious: We haven’t seen any video from before the arrest—the period during which Bill’s “crime” was allegedly committed. He made announcements on the microphone. They threatened to arrest him on the grounds that they interpreted his announcement as inciting a riot. No claims of yelling, name-calling, etc. at this point.
The chaotic scene that you are watching was CREATED by the police officers after they violently attacked the organizer of a PERMITTED and LEGAL event.