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I’m With Stupid – February 13, 2015

by Todd Hartley

Todd Hartley-smallSome years ago, there was a program here in the Roaring Fork Valley called A Grassroots Aspen Experience that brought underprivileged, low-income kids from inner cities to Aspen for a week of fresh air and fun. It seemed like a nice enough program, but I always felt that it was only half of what it should have been.

In my mind, in addition to bringing kids to Aspen, A Grassroots Aspen Experience also should have taken some overprivileged, high-income kids from Aspen and sent them to inner cities for a week so they could see how good they have it relative to most other kids in the world.

(Before you go jumping all over me for being a hypocrite, which I am, know that I grew up in just about the most privileged place on Earth and would have definitely benefited from a week of in-your-face reality.)

Sadly, A Grassroots Aspen Experience is no more, but the need for Aspen kids to get a dose of the real world is apparently as strong as ever, as evidenced by the little incident we had here last week.

Those of you who don’t live here and aren’t aware of the incident will probably shrug when I tell you what happened in plain terms: A local cop allegedly caught a high school kid rolling a joint a few feet away from school grounds. When he went to apprehend the suspect, the kid resisted, so he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and arrested. No one was hurt during the altercation, which was videotaped by bystanders.

Just about anywhere else in the world, a story like this would rightfully merit a “So what?” but this is Aspen, and around here we have a very skewed sense of how things really work. Thus, what should have been a complete non-event has morphed into a massive controversy that has engendered passionate responses on both sides of the ledger and even prompted many to play the “police brutality” card.

Seemingly everyone has weighed in on the subject, from my fellow columnists to letter writers to Facebookers. Now it’s my turn.

If you haven’t seen the video and you’re dying to hear the sound of realization dawning on a stupid kid, definitely give it a watch. Some people found it disturbing, but I have to admit, I thought it was hilarious.

In the video, the 16-year-old boy screams like an 8-year-old girl as a cop, a fireman and another man take him down. And yet, despite the pathetic mewling, the cop can clearly be heard telling the kid repeatedly to “Stop resisting, buddy.” It definitely didn’t sound like police brutality to me.

Before I go on, let me just say that I don’t know what preceded the video, so perhaps there’s more to the story than I realize. Maybe the kid wasn’t doing anything, as he claimed in one of his shrieks, but I imagine he probably was, so I’m going to speculate a little.

I’m guessing the kid actually was rolling a joint, which means he was breaking at least two laws. He was a minor in possession of marijuana, which is illegal, even in Colorado. Admittedly, that’s not that much, but the second violated law — having marijuana in a school area — is a little bit bigger of a deal and certainly merited intervention by the cop who witnessed it.

Some people have opined that the cop should have just driven by and let things slide. Those people are idiots. Is that really how you want our police force to operate? You want them to just ignore crimes? That’s really smart.

No, the cop did what he was supposed to do, and had the kid done what he was supposed to do — admitted his mistake and followed the cop’s directives — the cop probably would have let him off with a warning. But the kid didn’t, choosing instead to be a tough guy, and the cop did exactly what cops are trained to do in such situations.

The truth of the matter is that there was nothing even vaguely brutal about the arrest. Three people to take down one 16-year-old may seem excessive, but why should a cop put his safety at risk to deal with a criminal jacked up on adrenaline and fear? I’d have called for help, too.

No, this was merely a case of a punk kid who got exactly what he deserved and who was damn lucky it happened in Aspen.

Todd Hartley reminds you that that’s why they call it dope.

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Todd Hartley

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02 2015

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  1. 1

    The kid wasn’t rolling a joint is the whole issue. The cop suspected him, but nothing was found in his backpack until after he was cuffed and searched. So if you can see from the young boy’s perspective, if the cop had not actually SEEN any evidence, he is not going to turn himself in and hand over what was in his backpack the whole time. He thought he had a chance to get away with it, as many teens would have. If he actually was rolling a joint in plain sight, he probably would have complied. I know many kids who have been questioned by a cop but the cop did not have hard evidence and could not obtain it, and the teen has walked away with marijuana or alcohol. Obviously when a police officer does something they know is wrong, they make up a cover story. In this case, saying he saw the boy roll a joint, giving him probable cause, is his story, though the boy and ALL witnesses will tell you that he never rolled a joint. Plus, it’s interesting that no rolling papers were present at the scene. I don’t understand all of the adults trying to put this teenager in the worst light possible in the newspaper. How immature can you be?! He’s a minor who’s parents do not even speak English. He has been publicly called a spoiled brat by adults and has had assumptions made about him such as, “his parents hand everything to him in life.” No one even knows the kid and they think they have a right to say whatever they want about him. Sure, you have the right to your opinion on the situation, but do you really need to make personal attacks on a sixteen year old? It shocks me that the older generations of our community members can be so rude, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re overpriveleged. To pretend you know the teen is laughable. He’s actually had a very difficult life, is in no way spoiled, and has probably seen more harshness of the world than most of the adults in this community. And still, I will say he and his brother are some of the nicest kids to ever grace the halls of Aspen High. Warm and friendly to EVERYONE. And this kid was accused without evidence and only asked what he was doing wrong in the altercation leading up to what happened, because THE COP DID NOT FIND ANYTHING ILLEGAL ON HIM UNTIL AFTER. Have you seen the other videos? Have you seen the video of what happened BEFORE? I have. So I’m speaking on the matter with more factual knowledge than you are. Did you know another innocent minor was cuffed for filming the video, which is completely against his rights? Oh, and also, your whole grassroots thing? Yeah, um we have ex ed and their are many trips which go to underprivileged places, inner cities, etc. You clearly aren’t familiar with that program and the many many options to go do service work in places ALL over the country like spanish harlem, the bronx, cleveland, d.c, atlanta, etc. We’ve all worked in soup kitchens and homeless shelters in our high school education. And sorry but uh, smoking pot doesn’t make us sheltered. If anything, it makes us more open and freethinking. And we have a right to defend ourselves when we know the law and know an officer is not upholding the law. If a cop comes up to me FOR NO REASON and I have a nug in my backpack and he demands to search me or see what I have with me, I’m going to tell him to please go do his job somewhere else. Although, I’m white, not mexican, so my likelihood of being approached over suspicion is much less.

  2. Miles Knudson #

    You are so right about the officer in the video telling the young lawbreaker to stop resisting. Rather calmly at that. Everyone that is horrified at the arrest really needs to see and hear that again.

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