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Hartley: When realization dawns on boneheaded kids

Todd Hartley
I’m With Stupid

Some 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. To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://zerobudget.net.


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