If you've been to open mic nights at Johnny's Irish Pub on Culver Rd. in Rochester, NY, you may have seen Harry Allen.
The cowboy hat wearing musician enjoys occasionally playing the harmonica on open mic
Last Thursday night, Harry was walking home after playing at Johnny's, when he was stopped by two Rochester, NY Police officers, on Merchants Rd.
"I was doing no harm, just walking home," said Allen.
"They pulled up alongside me as I was walking down the sidewalk, they asked me what I was doing, where I was going and asked for ID, I politely said I was just going home and that I lived just around the corner and attempted to proceed walking."
"They (the officers) rushed around me, grabbed me and asked me for my 'papers'", Harry said, adding, "Again, I repeated 'I'm just going home', and did not have to show them anything."
"They forcibly grabbed me, and took my backpack, after I told them they were only harmonicas and proceeded to search my person, reaching into my pockets, practically pulling my pants down, grabbed my wallet, searching every little pocket, then found my ID."
"Unfortunately I had an outstanding bench warrant due to a missed court date for unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle."
Allen was arrested and taken to jail, where he was bailed out a few hours later.
Ok, let me make something clear here.
Harry Allen was doing nothing wrong when he was walking home after a night of playing his harmonica.
The Rochester Police officers who stopped him, as he was walking home, had no probable cause to stop him.
And given the Rochester, NY Police department's history of profiling, illegally detaining, and falsely arresting innocent people, I have next to no doubt that those officers didn't have ANY reasonable suspicion that Allen was either committing a crime (HE WAS SIMPLY WALKING), or about to commit a crime (HE WAS SIMPLY WALKING), or that he had committed a crime, all necessary for a police officer to detain someone.
What poor Harry didn't know is that once stopped by the Rochester Police officers, he should have immediately asked them a simple question.
"Am I being detained?"
This forces the officer(s) to either say yes, or no.
If the officer(s) respond "yes", then Harry Allen's next question to tend officer(s) should have been:
"For what crime?"
Actually although I don't recommend getting sarcastic with a low I.Q., overzealous trigger-happy Rochester, NY cop, a better question wold be: "For what? Walking?"
I guess technically that's two questions... but who's counting?
If on the other hand, when Harry asks the officer(s) "Am I being detained?", if the officer(s) respond "No", then Harry would have been bake to simply walk away.
Of course, in Harry's case, he had the outstanding warrant, which again, had NOTHING to do with the fact that the Rochester Police officers illegally, and unconstitutionally stopped him, WITHOUT PROBABLE CAUSE.
NOTE: ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS IN THE EVENT THAT YOU, OR YOUR LOVED ONE IS STOPPED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.
Again, Harry Allen was doing NOTHING wrong.
The fact that Allen happened to have an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor, had nothing to do with the fact that the RPD officers stopped him.
He wasn't driving.
He was walking.
And the cops didn't know he had a warrant when they profiled him, and decided to stop him.
In fact, it wasn't until the officers found Allen's ID, then ran a '29' on Allen, which basically means inputting his name in their database, that they learned that Allen had an outstanding warrant.
But up until that point, the Rochester Police officers had NO probable cause to stop, let alone detain Allen.
The officers obviously profiled Allen.
They saw a man, walking late at night, wearing a cowboy hat, and carrying a backpack, and they stopped him.
Once again, the Rochester, NY Police department lives up to their well known history and reputation of profiling, harassing, and abusing innocent citizens.
Like a guy wearing a cowboy hat, waking down the street, minding his own business.
I mean in a city known as the “Murder Capital of New York State", where murderers, and rapists roam the streets as cold case files fill some Rochester Police file cabinet, it's so reassuring to see that Rochester Police officers would rather misuse our hard earned taxpayer dollars harassing some harmonica playing, middle age man walking home, than catch real criminals.