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The perfect crime

BOB'N'ALONG by Bob Stealey

EDITOR

Just when I thought I'd heard it all, I was proven wrong this past week. At times I've written about the equality of the law, rights of victims over criminals and other such subjects. Well, here's a hum-dinger of a story I would like to share.

The item was faxed to our newsroom by The Rutherford Institute of Charlottesville, Virginia, as a news release.

It seems that Rutherford Institute attorneys on Monday filed suit in district court in Washington against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, its general manager and the chief of police for the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department on behalf of a 12-year-old girl who was arrested for -- get this! -- eating a french fry while in the Metro Station.

While I've occasionally blasted frivolous lawsuits in my editorials and my columns, this is one that I definitely feel should be filed.

I know nothing about the WMATA or the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department or their habits of enforcing the law. From having learned of this incident, I would be hesitant to take a breath in the presence of officials of either of these agencies.

According to the release, Ansche Hedgepeth had no idea what the consequences would be when she stopped to buy some french fries on her way home from school. Seems that she and a friend arrived at a Washington, D.C., Metro station to catch the train home.

After they proceeded to the lower level, Ansche placed one of the french fries in her mouth. (My word, didn't her parents ever teach her about such things? FOR SHAME!)

Immediately, a police officer demanded that she put down her fries and remove her backpack. Why, the embarrassment of such an action alone would stir me to action.

Ansche neither resisted nor failed to cooperate with an officer, yet she was handcuffed and was informed that it was against the law to eat in a subway station.

"After removing her shoestrings and searching her jacket and backpack," the release stated, "the officer asked a female officer to frisk Ansche. Ansche was then led to a police car and taken to the police station, where she was interrogated, booked, fingerprinted and finally released into her mother's custody after being detained for over two hours."

Just think of the diversity of law enforcement standards in our land! A 12-year-old girl is ludicrously read the riot act for a totally innocent, everyday act. Meanwhile, in a jurisdiction near you, the rights of someone who commits murder are feverishly protected. Where's the ACLU when it's really needed?

I wish each reader a most joyous Easter and wish that the reason for celebrating the day will forever be in your heart.

Sunday, I'll examine some of the old things we used to do, places we went and people we liked.

Editor Bob Stealey can be reached at 626-1438, or by e-mail at rstealey@exponent-telegram.com.

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