'Baton Bob' Picks a Bone With Police
ATLANTA (CN) - Atlanta police unconstitutionally arrested and assaulted a gay rights street performer and made him post a phony statement on Facebook absolving them of it, "Baton Bob" claims court.
Bob Jamerson aka Baton Bob sued Atlanta, its Police Chief George Turner, Police Commander Wyne Whitmire and three officers, in Federal Court.
Jamerson, a self-described "middle-aged, homosexual African-American male," says he created the alter ego Baton Bob for street performances.
"The character Baton Bob dresses in colorful and outrageous outfits using street performance art to entertain and inform citizens on a variety of local and national issues," the complaint states. "He frequently appears at public festivals and gatherings, but is also privately hired as master of ceremony for weddings, parties and other events."
Jamerson says he decided to celebrate the 2013 Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act by wearing a wedding dress and performing as Baton Bob across the street from the Colony Square Mall.
He claims defendant Officer H.J. Davis wrongfully arrested him during the June 26, 2013 performance after mall security guards called police.
"Officer Davis aggressively walked across the street and immediately placed plaintiff under arrest. Officer Davis ordered plaintiff to 'come with him'," the complaint states. "Plaintiff, confused and startled, responded to the officer 'Fuck you, what's this about?' Officer Davis didn't respond but attempted to grab plaintiff's wrist[;] plaintiff pulled his hand back and backed away. In response, Officer Davis roughly forced plaintiff's hands behind his back," the complaint states.
When the media began looking into the arrest, the city and police "became fearful of ... public outrage from the L.G.B.T. community," the complaint states.
It continues: "In an attempt to save their public image police asked plaintiff to make a public statement on the Baton Bob Facebook account. While plaintiff sat with his hands bound behind his back, plaintiff was demanded to give his username and password to the Baton Bob Facebook account. Atlanta Police didn't have a warrant, had not read Miranda [sic], nor allowed plaintiff an opportunity to consult with an attorney. Plaintiff was promised a signature bond if he gave a favorable statement about the incident on his Facebook page. At approximately 3:40 p.m., while plaintiff sat handcuffed and without an attorney, he was told to dictate a public statement to Officer Davis, who then typed and posted the message to the Baton Bob Facebook account. The message read:
"'First of all, the atl police officer that responded to the incident thru] security has been very respectful and gracious to me even in handcuffs. So, the situation escalated from a complaint from a security officer in the area and for some reason she rolled up on me like she didn't know who I was and like I had not been there before. For them to call police to come to intervene was not necessary. So, out of it, because of my fury, the Atlanta police officer did not understand the elements of the situation, so he was trying to do his job, respectfully and arrested my ass!!!!!!!!! I'll be out tomorrow so look out for my show at 14th and Peachtree. So now I'm waiting to be transported so I can sign my own bond and get the hell out of here. I want to verify, that the Atlanta police was respectful to me considering the circumstances. ...'"
Jamerson was then given a signature bond, "as promised," and released he says.
Baton Bob claims his Facebook page has 5,000 friends, and that the local media did not swallow his story about the forced confession. And he claims that Atlanta police have banned Baton Bob "from other events he would normally attend."
Jamerson seeks punitive damages for 20 claims, including constitutional violations, false imprisonment, battery, assault, invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress and defamation.
He is represented by Joshua Landon Brownlee, of Decatur, Ga.