Monday, December 18, 2006

Last night’s assault of talk show host Jack Blood by police officers on Sixth Street is only the latest in a long series of such incidents to occur in Austin's famed party district.

The most well-known examples are the pepper-spraying of the band Ozomatli and audience members when they formed a congo line outside a nightclub during the South by Southwest Music Conference, the assault and arrest for public intoxication (charges later dropped) of actor Jason Patric when he did not move quickly enough in response to an officer’s order to step onto the curb, and a Mardi Gras incident several years ago in which the police dealt with a minor altercation by indiscriminately firing pepper spray and wooden bullets at hundreds of innocent persons as they exited the nightclubs.

And now, sadly, we must add to the list last night's incident in which my good friend Jack Blood was pepper-sprayed in the face, suffered multiple injuries (including a broken nose), and was falsely arrested for public intoxication, when he had done nothing more than come to the assistance of a man who was being beaten by two other men.

We know about the attacks on Jack, Ozomatli, and Jason Patric, because they happened to prominent persons. Rest assured these incidents are only the tip of the iceberg; there are many more non-prominent persons who have been similarly mistreated by police on Sixth Street, yet whose stories have gone unreported.

In Jack's case, I find it curious that his only “crime” was performing a job that the police themselves should have been doing. Where were the police when they were actually needed? Why did they show up when the incident was over, and why did they ask no questions or do any kind of investigation before arresting the person who had done their job for them? Yes, it's very curious.