13-Year-Old Hit With Felony Charges After Throwing Snowball At Cop

With Great Power Comes The Thinnest Skin: 13-Year-Old Hit With Felony Charges After Throwing Snowball At Cop (Techdirt, Feb 25, 2014):

Considering the type of people cops interact with the most, you’d think law enforcement officers be the most broad-shouldered of individuals, easily shrugging off the various slights and indignities they’re subjected to on a daily basis. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.

According to police, a 13-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile with felony aggravated battery against a police officer Wednesday after he hit the officer in the arm with a snowball while the officer was parked in his vehicle in the 4900 block of West Congress Parkway about 3:20 p.m.

A cop, a person not entirely unlike anyone else ever hit by a snowball, found the impact of snow against his arm to be nearly unbearable. The main difference between Joe Citizen and Officer Snowball is that the Chicago police officer has the power to toss the offending person into the gears of the criminal justice system. Which is what he did. Obviously, this has provoked plenty of negative reaction.

“I think that’s ridiculous — it’s such a big charge,” said Latanya Powell, a construction worker on the block. “It’s just going overboard. I can see if it were a weapon and harm was done, but it was just a snowball.

“This is a case of kids being kids.”

Boys will be boys, but that’s only acceptable if they don’t extend their natural mischievousness to include this particular uniformed manchild. Once you cross that line — a line only a cop can see — you’re finished. Say goodbye to childhood and hello to a criminal record that will affect you for years to come.

Not everyone was as nonplussed as Latanya Powell. Local idiot educator Ray Fields felt this was a totally appropriate response to snowball-throwing.

“If [the boy] had gotten away with it, who’s to say what they’d do next? If it doesn’t stick to them now, they’ll be 16 or 17, and they’ll have a gun,” Fields said, adding that he has experience with local teens as a teacher and was the victim of a home burglary by neighborhood teens in 2010.

Hmm. Well, if we follow Fields’ reasoning (and that of the unnamed cop), we arrive at a couple of conclusions, both equally asinine.

A. Throwing snowballs at authority figures is a gateway drug to a life of crime. (Because snowballs magically become guns when the snowball thrower hits “age 16 or 17.”)

B. If a kid hitting a cop with a snowball is felonious battery, then kids everywhere are committing this crime — repeatedly — after every snowfall (with the attendant “snowballs lead to gunplay” concerns nowhere to be seen).

Conclusion A is a dead end. It’s not unlike the assertion that because criminals play video games, playing video games leads to criminal acts. Many criminals threw snowballs at their friends and authority figures (adults, teachers, cops) during their formative years, therefore snowball throwing leads to criminal acts. Rather than punish criminal behavior, those deploying this stunted logic want to crack down on non-criminal behavior in the deluded hope of preventing future criminal acts. All the way wrong, all the way down.

Conclusion B just exposes the fact that there are multiple sets of rules in play at any given time: one for citizens, one for cops and one for when the two intersect. Johnny hits Timmy with a snowball and it’s “playing.” A cop hits another cop with a snowball and it’s “playing.” But Johnny hitting a cop with a snowball is a felony.

Hanging a felony charge on a kid for snowball throwing is not only completely absurd, it has a much greater chance of converting him to a criminal than his cop-targeting snowball throwing does. Way to go, law enforcement (and enablers like Ray Fields): you’re generating scofflaws just as fast as you can trump up charges against them.

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