“Baton Bob” Jamerson today accused the Atlanta Police Department of violating his constitutional rights during a June 26 arrest in Midtown's Colony Square. He made the claim in a message posted to his personal Facebook page.
Jamerson's arrest came on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court released rulings on two cases involving same-sex marriage rights. News of Jamerson's arrest quickly made the rounds through local news outlets.
Jamerson says the real story of how the arrest happened, and how he was treated while in custody, shows an anti-gay bias at the Atlanta Police Department and a disregard for civil liberties and constitutional rights.
"NOW,..... A Conversation About The ARREST!!!!!"
Many of you have asked me what happened on June 26th? I have not shared the complete story because, I wanted to give the other side a chance to do the right thing; without being backed into a corner! Here is my account of what happened on June 26th!!!!!
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court finally acknowledged we were equal! When I heard the decision; I felt liberated, proud and elated; with positive energy, because we finally got there; after so much judgement! I posted on Facebook, that I was going to celebrate in the street and then I was off. I went to Colony Square like I had many times before, dressed for the occasion. I parked my car just like I always did. For three months, I had parked and gone through the mall dressed in character. in those three months, no one ever asked me to leave or told me I was not welcome, there. If they had, I would have gone somewhere else. This day was different, as I was getting ready to leave the building to celebrate; I noticed three security guards rushing towards me, in their faces I was confronted by the hatefulness so many of us have had to endure, especially in the gay black community. Instead of being treated like everyone else, I was confronted with harassment and hate! After they confronted me, I walked away to do my set and be proud of who I am! I got across the street and started my set, I saw a car go by and the people inside seemed to support the celebration of the day; and thanked them for the positive feedback. The crowd was light, but I felt like there was awareness; and everyone could see, that I was shining for equality!
Then, I saw an Atlanta Police Officer approach me in an aggressive manner. I had done nothing wrong and I had committed no crime. He approached me like I was a criminal, I asked him "what the fuck you want?" His disposition changed immediately, from a police officer to the face of institutionalized hatred and his body lauguage turned primal. I felt like he was threatened that someone like me had questioned him. He grabbed me and I pulled away. The he said, "I'm taking you to jail!" He grabbed me again and handcuffed one hand. Then he spun me around and slammed me on the marble seat like I was a harden criminal, he didn't tell me what I was charged with; and he didn't even read me my rights! As he leaned over me securing the other hand; I felt like I had no liberties, no freedom, no political speech and no right to be who I am! The empowering celebration was crushed and my rights were violated by a culture of hate! I was taken to precinct #5, and put in a swivel chair in the lobby with my hands handcuffed behind me. The arresting officer came over and I asked him what I was charged with? He said ,"this could have been different". Other officers came by and asked, "what is he doing here?" One of the other officers in the precinct poked his head out and said, "the story is on the AJC's website, already"; even before I was booked! the arresting officer had calmed down by now, and said there had been a lot of bad arrest in the past, and he asked me; if I would make a statement on my Facebook page saying, they treated me, ok. I sat in that swivel chair, a black gay man, in costume with my hands handcuffed behind my back; and I surrendered. I didn't want confrontation, I just wanted to regain some of the pride, that was taken; that day!
Without my attorney, and without Miranda being read to me; I made a Facebook post to my 5000 fans, in the precinct, typed by the arresting officer, as I dictated to him; on his computer. Some of you may be wondering why I haven't come out sooner, the truth is that we wanted to give the City Of Atlanta and the ADP the chance to drop the criminal charges and admit, that mistakes were made. I am not trying to get money, I am not trying to get officers fired; I just want to be treated equally; and have my rights RESPECTED!!!!! I don't even have a court date yet, and I have been told; it could be a year before I get a chance to go to court to prove my INNOCENCE!!!!!
My friends, here's the TRUTH of the matter concerning; the ARREST!!!!! This is not just about the character Baton Bob, this is about fighting the culture of harassment and hatred aimed at the LGBT community! This is about people with power violating CIVIL LIBERTIES!!!!!
I am appealing to the ADP and Colony Square, to drop all criminal charges against me; and make a public apology, so our communities can move forward in HARMONY!!!!! Again, I am not asking for money or officers to get fired; I just want my RIGHTS, to be RESPECTED!!!!!
I have decided, that I will no longer surrender my CIVIL LIBERTIES; to the culture of harassment and hate!!!!! I am empowering myself to stand up and be counted as EQUAL, I hope some you will stand up with me; "ALL I"M SAYING!!!!!"
Jamerson worked his "Ambassador of Mirth" character in St. Louis before moving to Atlanta, where in 2004 the Central West End Business Association stopped paying him as a street performer after complaints of profanity in his act, targeting business patrons and passersby he thought came to the area from the suburbs.
Also before his move to Atlanta, Jamerson accused Webster Groves police of manhandling him when they attempted to remove him from a July 4th parade where he marched with a Missouri pro-choice group, and was arrested in 2004 for allegedly trespassing at campaign rally for John Kerry's presidential bid.
Apparently the Fourth of July seems to bring out the worst from the street performer. This year in Atlanta he went on a rant against a "white lesbian bitch" during the holiday after she asked for a photo for her friend with cancer while he was mid-twirl.