It’s been a fantastic year so far, hasn’t it?
Even as anni horribiles go, 2020 is exceeding expectations. It’s almost as if fate were taunting us by making it a leap year, just so that our pain was extended by an additional 24 hours.
You’d need to dredge up the most pessimistic Hollywood screenwriter to come up with a pandemic film that found our country more dreary divided than it is now.
Case in point: Logan, Ohio, where police officers are apparently now tasing mothers with asthma for not wearing a protective mask in a sparsely filled section of bleachers at an outdoor middle school football game.
According to The Ohio Star, Alecia Kitts was arrested and charged with criminal trespass, but not before leaving behind another dispiriting artifact of the year of COVID-19.
Kitts had traveled an hour and a half from Marietta, Ohio, to Logan, which is about 45 miles southeast of Columbus, for the game Wednesday.
Tiffany Kennedy, who recorded the account, was the one who told The Ohio Star that Kitts had asthma, which was why she wasn’t wearing a mask; she also said Kitts hadn’t been warned before the police officer approached her.
As packed outdoor environments go, this wasn’t exactly a political rally or protest. In fact, the video seems to show stands roughly as empty as they are at your average NFL stadium on a Sunday this season.
“There were only 25 or 30 fans from our town on our side,” Kennedy said.
According to The Marietta Times, this was out of only 300 fans who were attending the game.
“This is over a mask,” you can hear someone saying on the video. “I don’t think he can arrest her for not wearing a mask.”
Whoever that was, they clearly weren’t acquainted with 2020.
WARNING: The following video contains graphic language that some viewers will find offensive.
Kitts, who was resisting the police officer, was eventually tased — although she wasn’t the only one who felt it.
“Alecia’s mom said that when the officer tased her, the current went through the bleachers and zapped the kid sitting there too,” Kennedy said.
Just in case you’re getting the wrong impression, resisting police officers is almost always a bad idea. That said, in a year where we’re questioning what police use of force means, the two intervening days since Kitts was tased hasn’t seen the kind of uproar tasing a woman for not wearing a mask would have created in other contexts.
What’s amazing, too, is that pretty much everyone in a position of authority defended the police here.
Logan Athletic Director Theresa Schultheiss said Kitts and her mother were “having issues with compliance” on masks, The Marietta Times reported.
“This rule has been in effect since we were told we could play,” Schultheiss said.
“Everyone that came through ticketing tonight was reminded, we had regular announcements over the PA reminding you that mouths and noses needed to be covered and we had signs at the bathrooms.”
According to the report, Marietta City Schools Superintendent Will Hampton “praised the work of his staff and noted compliance and efforts to return children to classrooms, sporting events and extracurriculars.”
“I am really disappointed,” Hampton said. “If you chose not to [wear a mask] then you threaten not only our ability to have sports but put your ability to watch as a spectator in jeopardy as well.”
“Instead, we’re talking about an individual who didn’t follow the rules and made a spectacle of herself.”
Meanwhile, the Marietta City Schools athletic director, Cody Venderlic, said he was “grateful that it didn’t happen in Marietta, but it saddens me that it was Marietta that caused it in Logan.”
“As athletic directors, we’ve talked about this too, and the biggest challenge about dealing with visiting fans is people behave much better at home than when they’re on the road,” he said.
There was no “challenge” here.
People weren’t packed into the stands. Inasmuch as Kitts may have been interacting with anyone, they consented to it.
There was no reason for her to be wearing a mask. If you don’t believe my words, believe the actions of the second cop who arrived about three minutes into the video and wasn’t wearing a mask, either. Rules are for thee, not for me.
What happened to de-escalation? What happened to alternatives to excessive force?
Instead, after viewing the video, everyone in a position of authority seemed to apologize for the fact this woman created a stir.
Absent additional facts that justify this officer’s actions, everyone involved in making or defending this arrest ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Every part of this wretched display was peak 2020.
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