Any goodwill we might have had about the Cubs’ historic World Series victory barely had time to evaporate before the first exciting news of the Brewers off-season broke – Keon Broxton was arrested in Tampa, Florida early Friday morning on a misdemeanor trespass charge.
The Tampa Bay Times report said police were responding to a Florida Highway Patrol request for backup due to an “active fight” near Howard Ave. and Platt St. in that city. According to the arrest report, Broxton was “extremely intoxicated” and had “visible injuries to his face but declined medical attention.”
The police report said Broxton “declined to make any statement about the incident” and indicated he did not need their assistance. When people were asked to leave the area of closed businesses, the report said Broxton became “hostile” and was yelling derogatory comments to the officers. Broxton was warned that he was trespassing and needed to leave, and was “grabbed by one of his friends to remove him from the area.”
Police spotted Broxton again three blocks from that area and again he was told he was trespassing and had to leave but continued yelling at officers, according to the arrest report. He was warned that he could face arrest if he returned to the property but he “continued to argue and then walked back on the property” and was arrested for trespass after a warning.
Broxton is innocent until proven guilty, although he has released a brief statement apologizing for his “lack of proper judgment.” Since it’s a misdemeanor, I would think this run-in with the law will not cause significant damage to Broxton’s career.
However, one aspect of the run-in just might cause some damage to Broxton’s reputation. In the Tampa Bay Times article that broke this story, there are more details about the comments Broxton allegedly made at the scene:
When police asked several people to leave an area of closed businesses, the report states that Broxton “became upset and began yelling ‘Y’all ain’t s—t behind your badges.” He was again warned that he was loitering and was “grabbed by one of his friends to remove him from the area.”
Well. In the last couple of years, there has been a noticeably brighter spotlight on issues such as criminal justice reform, police killings of unarmed citizens, and the militarization of law enforcement. In this context, criticism of the police invariably leads to emotional reactions all over the media, both traditional and social. Given the outrage directed at Colin Kaepernick over his national anthem kneeling protest, it’s easy to see how Broxton’s indiscreet comments toward the police might soon make him a villain among sports fans.
I wonder if that’s why JSOnline scrubbed those comments from the original version of its story, replacing “Y’all ain’t s—t behind your badges” with the non-specific “yelling derogatory comments.” When I sent the JSOnline link to my friends and coworkers yesterday morning, “Y’all ain’t s—t behind your badges” was there in the cold light of day. It’s the thing we all latched on to immediately. It seems silly for JSOnline to edit that out, particularly since Broxton’s comments are readily available elsewhere on the internet. What do JSOnline editors imagine they are protecting Broxton from? The adamantly pro-cop members of the Brewers fan base are going to find out about Broxton’s politically incorrect comments one way or another.
And boy, are there some pro-cop people out there. Maybe part of it is because passions are high in the homestretch of election season, but one doesn’t have to look far to find reactionary “Blue Lives Matter” hoopla coming from the general public and various elected officials. In reality, certain activist types have been pushing the idea that there’s a “war on cops” for decades, long before recent high-profile instances of police officers being murdered. Those murders are horrible, but although they get a lot of attention, they can skew our understanding of the risks cops face on a daily basis. In fact, available evidence shows it’s safer now to be a cop than it probably ever was.
Most people don’t know that, of course, which contributes to a lot of heated pro-cop rhetoric. Another thing that most people probably don’t know is that making rude gestures toward police officers is protected by the First Amendment. Presumably, Broxton’s foul mouth falls into the same category. That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to say “Y’all ain’t s—t behind your badges,” since a lot of cops don’t have any idea what’s Constitutional and what isn’t. It’s also pretty risky to be insulting to cops when you’re intoxicated and/or a person of color, even if it is your right. But the point is, it is your right to say mean things to cops. The more people know that, the better.
It’s too early to tell if Broxton will come under fire by the same folks who can’t stand Kaepernick. If he does, let’s try to keep in mind that Broxton was within his rights to exercise poor judgment as far as being impolite…and that cops don’t have any particular right to be as thin-skinned as their defenders seem to think they are.
(Images: Jeff Curry/Getty Images, Tampa Police Department)