Texas cop repeatedly tazes the Statue of Liberty

A Fort Worth, TX cop told a guy in a Statue of Liberty suit to move along from the road-median where he was advertising Liberty Tax Services. Lady Liberty did not immediately comply ("Get away from me! What are you doing? Go talk to my boss!") so the cop tazed the Statue of Liberty. Three times. As Lowering the Bar points out, this has bad optics.

People in Liberty suits have rights, too, but not the unrestricted right to solicit customers from a median. While this does implicate the First Amendment, it would be the kind of time, place, and manner restriction that usually passes muster. The situation would be different if a local government tried to completely ban the use of such "moving signs" or (as I prefer to call them) "business mascots," which of course is something that has happened before. See "The McHenry Code," Lowering the Bar (Sept. 6, 2006).

b Coincidentally, that incident (which happened in Illinois) also involved "Lady Liberty," as well as the Verlo Mattress Factory's "Mattress Man," a 4-by-3-foot ambulatory mattress with "comically large hands." McHenry's city council had decided that such "live moving signs" were distracting drivers (which is part of the point of having one) and causing a nuisance because people honk at them. (The council also threw in an alleged "safety risk" to the person in the costume, saying they might get heatstroke.) If I recall correctly, the council later reversed itself on the complete ban, thus giving Liberty some limited freedom.

You Know, It Just Sends the Wrong Message When You Tase the Statue of Liberty



    1. “We don’t want none of that liberal ‘liberty’ crap here in the Lone Star state!”  ZAP!

  1. Lady Liberty is an immigrant. I thought the general reaction in the good ol’ US of A on her first arrival was ‘What do we want with a fucking French statue?’
    Maybe I’m wrong.

    1. You’re not wrong. But then I would imagine the younger generations have forgotten that it came from France (or those troops that helped them beat the British also came from France).

  2. Jesus H Christ, what kind of dumb assholes are our cities hiring for cops?
    Can any dipshit get a badge and a gun now days?

  3. Tell me again about how tazers are only used when otherwise the cop would have had to resort to lethal force

    1. How soon we forget: back in the pre-tazer days the roadways were often clogged with the bullet-ridden corpses of costumed business mascots advertising tax services.

  4. Ah tax time. In my neighborhood these pop up tax companies always surface in previously vacant storefronts this time of year and send out the people in these suits. In addition to Lady Liberty, there’s usually an Uncle Sam or two out on the street corner as well. Depressing.

    1. Let’s just face it.  That dumb cop just did the evil thing that everybody is already thinking.  I have secretly wanted to taze one of those herky-jerky Liberty Tax sign flippers for a LONGGGGG time now….

      1.  I feel bad them. It’s kind of degrading not to mention that we’re still having temps in the 20s outside around here.

        1.  It’s probably hot in that suit, but I guarantee it gets a LOT HOTTER when you cook ’em with some electricity!!!  hahahah!

  5. Fort Worth Native here. The FWPD is off the rails these days. Every other week, another officer is arrested for DWI, some of them pretty high ranking. A few years back they stormed a gay bar called the rainbow lounge and started cracking skulls. Someone needs to clean that department up.

  6. (The council also threw in an alleged “safety risk” to the person in the costume, saying they might get heatstroke.)

    “Quit endangering yourself or I’ll stick barbs in you and pass current across your heart.”

  7. I think part of the problem is that  the tazer creates a bad situation here by supposedly being ‘safe’ and ‘non-lethal’.  The Liberty costume guy did not understand or fully and immediately co-operate with the officers instructions, and so the officer immediately grabbed their tazer and used it to force compliance when discussion would have sufficed. 

    While some officers may be willing to talk things through, there are certainly some that feel the need to have everything under control by subduing whomever they have decided to question/arrest/suspect of wrong doing.  Tazers do not excuse people from not being able to judge a situation, talk with the suspect, and use reasoning skills to determine a solution. 

    I wonder if there isn’t a mentality in police circles that cause them to decide that if the suspect doesn’t immediately comply without any form of complaint or discussion that they are resisting arrest.

    I personally fear tazers in this day in age because of a heart rhythm problem that I have.  I have no idea of what it is going to do to me if I do get tazed, especially since there is no easy way to express this in most situations with police officers.

    (For the record, yes I am a Fort Worth native, and outside one or two traffic stops, I have little interaction with the police, all positive.)

    1.  As a followup, this median ordinance is somewhat new in the area.  The area of town I work in had a lot of ‘homeless’ people soliciting underneath and around a bridge at Loop 820 and Hulen and they recently put signs up there in the last months that notified people not to solicit from the median.

    2. I have a heart condition as well. Tazer happy cops scare the shit out of me. It’s not non lethal to folks like us. 

    3. The real issue, as noted by an earlier poster, is that law enforcement has completely misunderstood the point of “non-lethal” force such as tasers, pepper spray, rubber bullets, etc.

      These devices should be reserved solely for situations in which an officer would otherwise need to use lethal force, and where the non-lethal alternative will address the problem (i.e. not when some guy is pointing a gun at you, but certainly when some guy’s holding a knife 10 feet away).

      Instead, law enforcement has used and continues to use these devices as a way to avoid doing their jobs properly. They are too lazy to talk to a person, or to execute a proper arrest (i.e. in this situation, either just arrest the guy if he’s really presenting a safety hazard, or give him a citation if all he’s doing is violating some anti-advertising code), so they abuse the person.

      Of course, then there’s the cop in Seattle who went out of his way (pulling his cruiser over) shot to death a man who had a closed knife and wasn’t threatening anyone (the man was well-known in the community for his woodworking habits). The officer was not even charged (though he was dismissed…it’s nice to know there’s at least a smidgen of sanity left).

  8. Maybe part of the issue was the association between the Statue of Liberty and immigration, a practice that is widely opposed by many Texas conservatives.

  9. Remember, folks: the problem is not just that tasers or “less lethal” weapons still kill people occasionally. The other problem is that police feel comfortable using them in more situations, since they probably won’t kill. In this case, it would have been perfectly appropriate to dump some kind of ticket or fine on the business or individual violating this local ordinance. But once you get a cop telling someone what to do, he needs to maintain his credibility by forcing the poor bastard in the turquoise dress to comply.

    I don’t know how those Liberty tax dancers can stand it around Michigan in February. Hope they get medical coverage for frostbite.

  10. My theory of how this went down:

    Cop to guy making minimum wage in a Statue of Liberty suit: “You can’t stand here”
    Guy: “I’m only doing my job, can you talk to my boss?”
    Cop: “I said, you can’t stand here, it is against the law”
    Guy: “My boss told me to come out here…”
    Cop: “Okay, you’re under arrest.”
    Guy (panicking): “I’m just doing this because my boss said to come out here”
    Cop: “I said, you’re under arrest. You need to comply or I will force you. Come over here.”
    Guy (panicking): “Get away from me! What are you doing? Go talk to my boss!”
    Cop uses tazer multiple times: “Now do you see why you should have listened to me? You guys never learn.”

    The cop goes home later that day feeling happy that he beat up a poor guy making minimum wage, everybody on the Internet laughs at his mugshot, and the poor guy loses his crappy job and now has to deal with the criminal justice system that only wants to grind him under its heel. Oh, and his employer also probably withholds his pay to compensate for cleaning the suit (to get the blood and dirt off).

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