Cult of Compliance – University of Virginia Edition

Not a case of beer

The blog Police State USA does a fantastic job of tracking and writing up incidents of police brutality, overreach, abuse, and other nefarious conduct. I continue to focus on the cult of compliance. This story is from the summer of 2013:

  • Three female college students went to the grocery story and bought bottled water.
  • Two plainclothes police on beer patrol (for the ABC – Alcoholic Beverage Control) thought the water might be beer, so came at the car. Demanding the women stop and open the car windows.
  • The women panicked and tried to get away, alleging they didn’t know the armed men were police. And in order to open the windows they would have to start the car, and one the driver started to start the car, the officers got aggressive, jumping on the hood, banging on the windows, and calling lots of backup very quickly.
  • The women drove away, calling 9-1-1, only to learn that their assailants were actually police. 
  • The police charged  the driver with felonies (since withdrawn), and the driver had to spend the night in jail.
  • Public outcry has followed.
You can read the post at Police State or the original UVA newspaper article here. Jonathan Turley, another of my favorite bloggers, hosted a piece on it here.
I want to focus on the explanation of what happened that ABC posted to their Facebook page (my emphasis):

Agents were working in the area, concentrating on underage possession enforcement. An agent observed what appeared to be an underage person in possession of what appeared to be a case of beer, and approached her to investigate. The agent identified herself as a police officer and was displaying her badge. Other agents did not join the incident until the subject refused to cooperate. Rather than comply with the officers’ requests, the subject drove off, striking two officers. She was not arrested for possessing bottled water, but for running from police and striking two of them with a vehicle. 

The agents were acting upon reasonable suspicion and this whole unfortunate incident could have been avoided had the occupants complied with law enforcement requests. We take all citizen complaints seriously and the matter is currently under review by the ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement.

That’s the line, folks. None of this would have happened if the occupants had just complied. Frankly, the women are lucky no one fired at them.
That’s the cult of compliance.

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