February 17, 2007

History of cartography professor beaten by cops in Atlanta

Filed under: cartography — ubikcan @ 11:02 am

A friend told me about this a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t realise the prof involved also had history of cartography interests* (not that it makes any difference to his experience).

Seems our historian friend is a bit of an old duffer and got a bit stroppy with the police after jaywalking, who then overreacted somewhat and threw him to the ground. According to the account in the Daily Mail:

A distinguished British historian claims he was knocked to the ground by an American policeman before being arrested and spending eight hours in jail — all because he crossed the road in the wrong place.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, 56, said he had been the victim of “terrible, terrible violence” after he inadvertently committed the offence of “jaywalking” in Atlanta, Georgia, last week and failed to realise that the man telling him to stop was a police officer.

Jaywalking is illegal in the US (and Canada as I know from my own experience when getting berated by a cop for it in Toronto!).

I like the way he describes the incident:

Professor Fernandez-Armesto, who is also a member of the history department at Tufts University in Massachusetts, was in Atlanta for the convention of the American Historical Association.

He said he was innocently crossing the road between the two hotels serving as conference venues when his ordeal began. Because Officer Leonpacher was wearing a “rather louche” bomber jacket that covered his uniform, the professor said he did not realise he was from the police department.

He said: “All I was aware of was a rather intrusive young man shouting at me telling me that I shouldn’t have crossed the road there.

“I thanked him for his advice and went on.”

When Officer Leonpacher then tried to stop him and demanded to see identification, Professor Fernandez-Armesto asked to see the policeman’s own ID, which he “didn’t take kindly to”.

At this point, still not realising he had done anything wrong and wondering whether any of the identification on him would be suitable, he said the officer lost patience.

“He said ‘I am going to arrest you’,” Professor Fernandez-Armesto said. “In the culture I come from this wouldn’t mean that the conversation was over.

“Nor would it mean that you were about to be subjected to terrible, terrible violence.

“This young man kicked my legs from under me, wrenched me round in what I think is a sort of a judo move, pinned me to the ground, wrenched my arms behind my back, handcuffed me. I had five burly policemen pinioning me to the ground, pressing my neck with really very severe pain.”

With his subsequent bail set at £720 but with no way to get the cash, Professor Fernandez-Armesto remained behind bars. The next day he arrived in court, explained to his case to the judge and prosecutors agreed to drop charges.

Can’t remember the last time the word “louche” appeared in a newspaper!

More here (HNN) and here (Wikipedia). By the way, he is a “Superdon,” that is, a don who appears regularly on TV.

*I can’t find much about his caqrtography publications except this:

Map Collector
Volume 58, 1992, Pages 2-5

Fernandez-Armesto, F.

Tradition has it that Columbus made his living as a map maker, but there are no extant maps which are credited to him without doubt. He gave undertakings to construct charts but lacked the means and the skills to do so. He placed much reliance on an unknown chart during his first Atlantic crossin.


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