Father playing guitar at park harassed by police.

MARIETTA, GA — June 1, 2013: A local resident was apparently deemed “too poor” to hang out and play his guitar while watching his son play in a public park located in a pricy area of Marietta, GA.

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He was at East Cobb Park to watch his six-year-old son play at the park, and had brought along his guitar, only to be interrupted by Cobb County Police; the police were called to the park to investigate, and, possibly eject, he and his son.  The resident reported that the video does not include that he was asked by another parent’s child if he was, first, “a bum,” and then, “a hipster.”  It was shortly after this conversation that the police were called.

In the video that has just now been released to the public, Cobb County Police Department officers Eric Shinholster and Travis Wood are seen hassling this resident at East Cobb Park.  Due to the serious nature of police appearing on the scene, it was demanded that a report of the incident be written, and, in front of the resident’s six-year-old son, an officer was seen standing, hand on weapon, before an incident ID number was handed over.  The subject of the call was then ordered to pack up and leave the park.

Hand on gun.

Hand on gun.

Here is a ShortLink to the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/hI-F1UiVJ28

Now, here is the embedded video (see below):

The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, appended to the United States Constitution, covers such things as playing music on a guitar in public.  A D.C.-area busker won a decision allowing him to play his guitar near the Metro station.

This incident gave rise to a question as to whether or not Cobb County Police Dept. policies (and adherence to such policies) regarding police interactions with citizens remain compliant with both state laws and citizens’ rights under the Bill of Rights.  A formal complaint was attempted, but the results were inadequate.

“I thought I was going to be shot or tasered right in front of my son; I thought that I was going to die,” it was stated in an interview; “It was traumatic; I’ve been robbed at gunpoint, but this time it was the police harassing me… I tried to complain but, based on what I got back, it seemed like they were trying to avoid litigation rather than hold the officers accountable.” It has been reiterated in recent protests against abuse of power that the public trust being broken can cause distrust, disrupt peoples’ lives, and cause trauma.

Multiple incidents in Cobb County involving the police have caused residents to demand changes and oversight.  This includes one of the County’s own commissioners.  On July 14, 2015, Commissioner Lisa Cupid was tailed by an undercover officer using a “seedy looking car” following her into her neighborhood as she traveled home from a late-night study session for the GA Bar exam held at a local hotel.  Cupid later attempted to raise the issue of accountability and oversight via an independent citizen review board.  Cupid’s call for oversight was met with fierce criticism from some people on FaceBook.  A sample of public comments filled with scathing vitriol are archived: http://atfirstsite.us/wordpress/?attachment_id=4707

One such review board does exist in Atlanta, and, incidentally, this same review board had recently launched a ‘Don’t Run’ campaign that drew heavy criticism.  CBS46 News has reported that the ‘Don’t Run’ campaign has been suspended.

The issues of police harassment and brutality throughout the United States were recently addressed in the latest U.N. Human Rights Council report, published on May 15, 2015.  The ACLU has published its own article on the UN report, highlighting the fact that over three hundred and forty recommendations were given regarding how the United States as a whole can improve its human rights situation.  The UN report is archived for download herehttp://atfirstsite.us/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/a_hrc_wg-6_22_l-10.pdf

This case is merely one of many small situations that have added up across the county to the point that a group effort to demand changes is underway and the general goal is to put a stop to the campaign of harassment waged against the poor and minority classes that is pervasive and entrenched in Cobb County.

For more information on Cobb County Police Dept and Commissioners:

What do you think about this incident?  Comments are appreciated.
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About Amy Barnes

Author has extensive experience in Retail, including two years as a supervisor. Educated in Psychology, Financial Accounting, Criminal Justice, and Programming. Work experience in Law Enforcement, Security (IT), Programming (REALBasic, SQL, VB, JAVA), Retail.
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