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Edward C. Lawson - Flying While Black

Long Beach Police Arrest - QuickTime 7 H.264 . mp4 - 640 x 480 -- 138 MB
2006 | Flying While Black

Long Beach International Airport Arrest | TSA | JetBlue
JetBlue | TSA | Long Beach Police Department Officers
Four Days in Solitary Confinement in the Long Beach City Jail - August 2006
Sheriff at Airport: "The Constitution doesn't apply here."
Mr. Lawson: The Constitution applies to every last square inch of America.
August 2006

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 - Friday 18th • LBPD Booking Time: 2:00 PM
20 21 22 23 24 25 26 - Monday 21st • released from jail at approximately 8:00 PM
Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday | 78 Hours in the Long Beach City Jail

Edward Lawson
800 520-5666

EDWARD LAWSON, who wandered into the American history books in the U.S. Supreme Court's 1983 California Walkman case was arrested for F.W.B. (Flying While Black) at Long Beach, California's international airport.

At approximately 12:30 P.M., on Friday, August 18, 2006, at the City of Long Beach California international airport, jetBlue Airways - trueBlue member EDWARD LAWSON arrived at the U.S. Federal Transportation Security Administration's (Federal TSA) pre-boarding passenger screening area to board JetBlue Airline's Flight Number 222, departing Long Beach, at 1:30 P.M. for New York City, New York.

At the security screening area Mr. Lawson was selected for the special screening procedure. Mr. Lawson was separated from his bags (one black brief case plus one grocery bag containing a bag of organic grapes, some organic dates and some raw edamame (lightly flavored with Bragg's Amino Sauce). Mr. Lawson was directed to an area approximately 20 feet from the x-ray machine conveyor belt. Mr. Lawson was sat down and the hand held metal detector was waved under each bare foot. Mr. Lawson was stood up and the metal detector was waved over his body. By hand, Mr. Lawson was patted down from head to foot (minus the “fun places” on the human body). During this time there was no conversation, just the low murmur of direction by the Federal TSA Agent conducting the search. At the conclusion of the search procedure as Mr. Lawson was walking away the Federal TSA Agent made an offhand remark about the virtue of this kind of search. And Mr. Lawson made an offhand remark about the constitutionality of this kind of search.

From somewhere across the room came the voice of a big man in a uniform, a beige shirt, green trousers, and a big, big gun. His bald head and the bullet proof bra that holds in the donut gut and pushes up his rounded shoulders were the perfect compliment to a personality drunk with power. A cocktail recipe of fear smothered in bravado. Ignorance offset by authority. And all stirred (not shaken) with the brisling contempt of deadly force. This gentleman may have been a Los Angeles County sheriff. In response to Mr. Lawson's offhand parting comment to the Federal TSA search agent the sheriff blurted out: "The Constitution doesn't apply here." Mr. Lawson, having read the Constitution and remembering no place where the Long Beach airport was mentioned, much less exempted, informed the sheriff, who is still some distance away, that the Constitution applies to every last square inch of America. The sheriff repeated that the Constitution doesn't apply here. Mr. Lawson retorted that the Constitution applies to every last cubic inch of America. This call and response continued for a couple of rounds and concluded by the sheriff saying if you don't like it, get a lawyer. Mr. Lawson repeated some variation of the Constitution applies to every last square inch of America.

By that time the sheriff and Mr. Lawson were both standing at the exit of the screening area, leading to the boarding area. The sheriff said get on the plane. Mr. Lawson reminded the sheriff one more time that the Constitution applies to every last cubic inch of America. The sheriff repeated the get on the plane threat. Mr. Lawson observed that the plane was where he was going, before the sheriff stopped him for this neo-con’s civics lecture.

Mr. Lawson turned and left, only to get half way to the passenger waiting room to realize that when the Federal TSA search team had separated him from his two bags and his shoes to be swabbed and tested for bomb juice, they had returned only one bag and the shoes to the special table in the special search area. Mr. Lawson returned to the screening area and informed the first Federal TSA agent in sight of the oversight. The sheriff came back over, but nothing was said. The Federal TSA agent found the bag, did a quickie bomb juice swab & test, returned the bag to Mr. Lawson who turned, walked out of the screening area by about ten feet where he was set upon by about a half a dozen Long Beach city police officers including Officer Blood, Officer Penn and Officer Trebner.

Officer Penn ordered Mr. Lawson to move over here. Officer Penn ordered Mr. Lawson to place his bags over there. Office Penn asked "what was the problem"? Mr. Lawson replied that he was not aware of any problem. Officer Trebner asked "you seem to be agitated"? Mr. Lawson asked what did he mean by agitated. Officer Trebner said he wasn't going to get into semantics (it should be noted that semantics will be the biggest word Officer Trebner will use). With no more conversation than those three or four sentences Officer Penn handcuffed Mr. Lawson, man-handled him off to a ten foot by ten foot interrogation room, with two desks, three chairs, some computers, six cops and a lot of confusion. The police were all talking at the same time, the radios were crackling in and out and various cops were going in and out of the ten square foot room leaving trails of chaos and shadows of Katrina incompetence and the wisp of the Abu Ghraib intellect.

Mr. Lawson stated that:

1. Consistent with the United States Supreme Court findings in the case of Mark Royer vs. Florida custody constitutes arrest. So, Mr. Lawson is now under arrest.

2. Consistent with the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the United States Supreme Court's finding in Miranda vs. Arizona, "you have the right to remain silent."

3. If Mr. Lawson was under arrest, he demanded to know the charge.

4. And over and over again if there was any kind of complaint, Mr. Lawson demanded that the investigating officer secure the contact information on exactly who complained about what.

The police would have none of this. The police kept on changing their story.

At one point the police maintained that Federal TSA had complained. They changed that to JetBlue Airlines had complained. They changed that to some, unnamed, unknown passenger was afraid to get on the same plane with Mr. Lawson. But the most consistent thing out of the collective police mouth was that they didn't like Mr. Lawson's attitude, that they didn't like his booming black baritone voice, its volume, diction or elocution. That they didn't like that Mr. Lawson thought he was smarter than they were. Repeatedly they would return to the attitude question, but never once mentioning anything about airline security, bomb making, Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden or any of that stuff. But the police did spend a lot of time making fun of the fact that Mr. Lawson used "big words." Mr. Lawson had a "bad attitude." Mr. Lawson had no respect for the police. Rummaging through Mr. Lawson's wallet they found his Screen Actor's Guild card. For the police this was a major find and a major source for new jokes about Mr. Lawson is an actor. This went on for quite a long time before they located an outstanding warrant in the police computer for Mr. Lawson, from Los Angeles - for driving after dark without the lights on. The police stated emphatically that the Los Angeles warrant was out of their jurisdiction and they don't have to arrest Mr. Lawson for that. And that if Mr. Lawson will just give them a few pieces of information i.e. social security number and phone number, they would let him go on his way. Mr. Lawson gave them the two numbers and the police grabbed Mr. Lawson still handcuffed, and dragged him out the door into a police car for the long bumpy ride downtown to the police headquarters and jail at the Long Beach Civic Center.

When this all arrived at the booking room at Police Headquarters the police went into a second chapter of making fun of Mr. Lawson, giving special emphasis to making fun of the Fifth Amendment of the federal Constitution.

After booking, Mr. Lawson was taken upstairs to the main lock-up and turned over to an Officer Odenberg and the third chapter of making fun of Mr. Lawson. To underscore their sense of humor Mr. Odenberg placed Mr. Lawson in solitary confinement. Incommunicado for four days, Mr. Lawson asked both Officer Blood and Officer Odenberg for that phone call that you see in the movies. And they did not permit it. For four days Mr. Lawson simply disappeared, into a six-by-six windowless, always-on-light-bulb-room with only a steel bunk and a toilet and some bugs. For four days Mr. Lawson, living on water alone, contemplated the Bill of Rights, Jefferson, and this great nation you live in. All to the background chorus of his fellow prisoners screaming in agony or insanity - 24 hours a day.

Think of it all from your own point of view, the next time you're anywhere. One minute you're at the airport. The next minute you disappear. And if you have a black voice, a bad attitude, a good command of the Bill of Rights and a police man who thinks you think you're smarter than him, he can disappear you into four days to think about the Bill of Rights, which you probably need to think about more often.

"I know what you're thinking. And of course you're right. There is no way I could possibly succeed. But for me there is no other choice. If I have not been able to sleep for the last four nights, because of what they did to me, I would not be able to sleep for the rest of my nights if I did nothing about it. What's worth while that has ever been accomplished that was not impossible at the beginning"?

-- Edward Lawson

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. 

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. 
Royer v. Florida, 460 U.S. 491 (1983) |

-- What had begun as a consensual inquiry in a public place escalated into an investigatory procedure in a police interrogation room, and respondent, as a practical matter, was under arrest at that time.
MIRANDA v. ARIZONA, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) |

-- (b) The privilege against self-incrimination, which has had a long and expansive historical development, is the essential mainstay of our adversary system and guarantees to the individual the "right to remain silent unless he chooses to speak in the unfettered exercise of his own will," during a period of custodial interrogation [384 U.S. 436, 437] as well as in the courts or during the course of other official investigations. Pp. 458-465.
Miranda Rights | Miranda Rights | Silence | Miranda Rights | Miranda Rights | Miranda Rights |

August 2006

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 - Friday 18th • LBPD Booking Time: 2:00 PM
20 21 22 23 24 25 26 - Monday 21st • released from jail at approximately 8:00 PM
Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday | 78 Hours in the Long Beach City Jail

Related Background Information

Federal TSA | TSA Information |
Transportation Security Administration ... Vigilant, Effective, Efficient
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Long Beach Airport |

Known as the Region's "Easy In, Easy Out" Airport
Long Beach City Hall |

333 W. Ocean Blvd. Long Beach CA 90802
Mon-Fri: 7:30am to 4:30pm


CHIEF OF POLICE | 562 570-7301 -- 8am-5pm
100 Long Beach Boulevard
Long Beach CA 90802
Long Beach Police Department | Police Reports | Report Form | PD Contact Info |

Long Beach Police Officers

At Long Beach airport: Officer Blood, Officer Penn and Officer Trebner
At Long Beach police station: Officer Blood and Officer Odenberg
Long Beach Airport: http://longbeach.gov/airport/ |
Long Beach City Jail may be located 3 blocks from the police department, at the southwest corner of Chestnut and Broadway. (Chestnut is a dead end street.)

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