The following is 100% true. I wish it weren’t
Members of the East Lansing Police force learned recently that they no longer had to rely on disorderly conduct charges to keep local residents from having fun. In a morning briefing early this week, it was revealed that East Lansing does in fact have an ordinance which prohibits Frisbee-playing in the streets. This reporter’s knowledge of the law is a direct result of illegal frisbee tossing (with intent) near the 500-block of M.A.C. Avenue.
At first, Rick* was warned to “get out of the street” by a passing officer. Knowing the propensity of the East Lansing police to be rather enthusiastic in their requests, if not their respect for the law, we decided that we should all stand on the sidewalks or patches of grass we call front lawns around here. Alas, that was not adequate, as we later learned, when ever-vigilant officer Joey* sped down M.A.C., parked in a ‘no parking from corner to here’ zone, turned on his lights, and apprehended Rick, who did not flee the scene.
During the discussion, while Rick was being ‘run‘ by the computer, the officer pointed out that he had warned us, and that he thought it was very big of him, since he could have busted us right off the bat. He said we should speak to P.A.C.E. (Parking and Community Enforcement) about his parking, and told us the number of the ordinance disallowing frisbee-playing in the street (3.10a).
We had little time to talk, however, law enforcement requiring his total attention, except for parking or speeding, and ordered that we forfeit our right to watch him perform his duties in public, and watch he and Rick (who was put into the cruiser) from across the street. He said he would be happy to come over, once finished, and answer any questions I might have.
Though it was quite rude, and probably technically illegal, it did allow me an opportunity to abscond with the evidence (the frisbee), and to take some funny photographs of Mandy* flipping off the cop car.
Several witnesses remarked on the fact that while Rick and the officer sat in the car (most likely discussing the dangers inherent in having any kinds of fun in East Lansing), a P.A.C.E enforcer drove up, stopped, spoke briefly to Officer Joey, and left. The cruiser remained in the ‘no-park’ zone. 20 minutes later, Rick was allowed to leave the vehicle, in possession of a brand new citation, charging him with violation of City Ordinance Number 3.10a.
It turns out that Officer Joey wouldn’t come over…I had to go back to the vehicle, and even so, he didn’t seem to be too happy about answering my questions. I learned that he had been with the force for about 1 year. Though he mentioned, again, that he had warned us, he didn’t seem to care that we had followed the letter of his instructions by getting out of the street. He claimed I should know better. I pointed out that even a relative rookie like himself should know how exacting laws, especially in East Lansing, can be with respect to wording and intent. He responded by claiming I had “an attitude” as evidenced by “uppity” questions and the fact that I was taking photos. I asked if he had a personal or professional problem with simple curiosity.
I did manage to learn that he had been briefed, along with most of his fellow officers, that very morning, about City Ordinance 3.10a, specifically. He further explained that ‘disorderly conduct’ was a valid charge against frisbee-use in the street, and that it covered everything from “spitting on the sidewalk to swearing in front of women and children.” I asked if it was also used, by himself or others, to intimidate or harrass people who were annoying or bothersome, but were otherwise acting in a perfectly legal and orderly fashion. It was at this point that he claimed that he had to “get going,” presumably to take care of some other highly important business.
Over the course of the subsequent week, I learned that this behavior with respect to frisbee playing was not unique. Several other local area residents had been challenged, or knew friends that had been cited, as well. Evidently, some crusader had done some research down at City Hall, and was endeavoring to put an end to this menace, which had plagued the city, doubtless since Frisbees had been invented. We can only hope that similar ordinances will be promulgated in the future, against football throwing, soccer ball kicking, or jump rope skipping, to prevent other dangerous ways of having fun in East Lansing. (Skateboarding is already illegal).
Each of the frisbee players had agreed to split the cost of Rick’s ticket, as it wasn’t right for one guy to cover the charge, when many had been tossing the disc. This turned out to be unnecessary, however. When Rick went to District Court 54-B to fight the charge, the District Attorney asked for a dismissal. He claimed “it would be an embarrassment to the city to continue its prosecution.” Thank goodness for the DAs alacrity, else more than just The City could have been embarrassed.
* Names have been changed to protect the guilty