A North Miami Beach police officer who was protesting the Affordable Care Act was arrested this weekend when he refused to remove the Guy Fawkes mask he was wearing.
According to the police report, Ericson Harrell was wearing the mask, a black cape, and holding an inverted United States flag when police confronted him. He told them he was “protesting Obamacare,” but when he “was asked several times to remove his mask and produce some form of identification or tell us his name,” he refused.
He told officers that “his anonymity was his cause, thus the mask.” The Guy Fawkes mask was popularized by the hacktivist group Anonymous, but originated with David Lloyd’s homage to the purported leader of the Gunpowder Plot in Alan Moore’s 1983 comic book serial V for Vendetta.
When officers discovered he was carrying a .40 caliber pistol in his waistband, he relinquished some of his anonymity by informing them “I’m a cop, I’m a cop.”
He was ordered not to make any sudden movements, then charged with obstruction of traffic and wearing a hood or mask on a street. Florida has a statute — which originated with the state’s attempt to criminalize the Ku Klux Klan without violating the Constitutional guarantee to free assembly or ruining Halloween — that states that “[n]o person or persons over 16 years of age shall, while wearing any mask, hood, or device whereby any portion of the face is so hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer, enter upon, or be or appear upon any lane, walk, alley, street, road, highway, or other public way in this state.”
Harrell was not taken into custody, but issued a summons to appear in court. His superior in the Plantation Police Department collected his badge and police identification on Sunday, but as of this moment his current employment status is unknown.
["Masks from the film 'V for Vendetta,' popularized by the 'Anonymous' movement" on Shutterstock]
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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