Adam Rupeka is an activist working with Cop Block, an organization that monitors police and documents misconduct. On May 17, Rupeka posted a video showing what happened to him in Saratoga Springs, New York, after he flipped off a local cop.
Rupeka says that he had received a tip from a Saratoga Springs resident that the local police force was abusive to citizens. So, he placed cameras in his car, and on May 16 he went for a drive around the city to see what happened if he gave a cop the middle finger. What he found shows that some police officers either do not know the law, or they simply do not care about following it.
In 2013, a federal appeals court ruled that giving a cop the finger is not grounds for being stopped by the police. But that didn’t prevent Saratoga Springs police Officer Nathan Baker from pulling Rupeka over.
The exchange that plays out on the video recorded by one of Rupeka’s cameras is an amazing display of the arrogance of power. Rupeka merely asks Baker to tell him what he was being stopped for. Baker refuses to tell him, and while repeatedly asking Rupeka to step out of the car, he casually removes his pepper spray from its holster, shakes it like he was preparing to spray air freshener, and sprays Rupeka in the face.
According to WNYT, Baker has been suspended without pay since the incident. Saratoga Springs Police Chief Greg Veitch says that he will be seeking Baker’s termination. So far, the police union has made no comment on Baker’s suspension, or Veitch’s plan to fire him.
On Thursday, June 4, all charges against Rupeka were dropped. But this is far from over. Rupeka is planning to sue the city over what happened.
A word of advice: While Adam Rupeka didn’t commit any crime by giving Baker the finger, flipping off a cop is not recommended. Police have multiple ways of making your life miserable, without pepper spraying or arresting you. By doing something that you can do, but really shouldn’t do, Rupeka proved that some cops either aren’t familiar with the rights of the people they are supposed to protect and serve, or they are quite willing to use their power to harass and intimidate anyone who pisses them off.
Here’s the video, via WNYT:
Featured image via screen capture from YouTube