Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'I Was Grabbed and Thrown in US Jail for Crossing Road'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'I Was Grabbed and Thrown in US Jail for Crossing Road'

Article excerpt


A DISTINGUISHED British historian claims he was knocked to the ground by an American policeman before being arrested and spending eight hours in jail - all because he crossed the road in the wrong place.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, 56, said he had been the victim of "terrible, terrible violence" after he inadvertently committed the offence of "jaywalking" in Atlanta, Georgia, last week and failed to realise that the man telling him to stop was a police officer.

The slight, bespectacled professor claimed that five policemen then pinned him to the ground after Kevin Leonpacher kicked his legs from under him.

He was left "traumatised and disorientated" and with a gash on his forehead as he was taken to the local jail and charged with pedestrian failure to obey a police officer and physical obstruction of police.

Professor Fernandez-Armesto, once described as "the archetypal superdon", is an expert in various fields,

including global environmental history, comparative colonial history, maritime history and the history of cartography.

He is the author of 19 books, which have been translated into 22 languages and he has won numerous awards. Once described by the Times as a man who "makes history smart", he is professor of global environmental history at Queen Mary College, University of London, and a member of Oxford University's modern history faculty.

Following his arrest for jaywalking, he said he had been subjected to "very humiliating procedures".

The professor said he appeared in court the next day, "tortured" by the fear that he would end up with a criminal record that would wreck his chances of working in the States.

However, prosecutors agreed to drop the charges and an internal police inquiry is now under way, after the city's mayor said she had asked the department's head to look into the incident. …

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