As if residents of New York City didn’t have enough ridiculous laws to worry about, enter this story.
Andrew Rausa was sitting on a stoop accompanied by his girlfriend and three friends when an unmarked police car rolled up. As two police officers exited the car and approached the group, Rausa thought the problem was his charcoal grill set up right by his friend’s Brooklyn residence.
It wasn’t. It was the fact that he and the others were having a few beers sitting on their own stoop during their 4th of July celebrations- seemingly harmless and legal.
The story begins like this, according to the New York Times who first reported it:
“You’re all getting summonses for drinking in public,” Mr. Rausa recalls one of the officers announcing from the other side of the wrought-iron gate in front of the brownstone, on Douglass Street in Boerum Hill.
“We were all kind of stunned for a second,” Mr. Rausa said in an interview on Tuesday. “It happened over the gate. It was a very tangible physical divide — when they said the words ‘public property,’ it just didn’t make any sense.”
Immediately after the cops started walking away, Mr. Rausa pulled out his cell phone and looked up the New York administrative code. Not shockingly, porches and stoops do not classify as ‘public property’, which almost everyone knows.
The NY administrative code defines ‘public property’: “to which the public or a substantial group of persons has access, including, but not limited to,” a park, sidewalk or beach. Exceptions include drinking at a block party or “similar function for which a permit has been obtained.”
Armed with his rights, Rausa approached the police car and informed one of the officers about this. What was said next is undoubtedly the worst part of the ordeal.
“I don’t care what the law says, you’re getting a summons”, exclaimed one of the men. The officers then drove away.
Each person was slapped with a $25 fine. Due to the amount being low, Rausa contemplated paying up. However, after discovering it would leave slight dents on their personal records he changed his mind and has since decided to take this to court. No court date has been set as if the time the original article was published.
While the story is quick in nature, it raises the question: If cops can completely disregard the law they swore to uphold and completely toss it aside on something as minor as drinking on your own porch, where does it stop?
Note: This was not the first time this happened in New York City. While researching after the incident, Rausa stumbled across an identical scenario from 2008 as well.
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