Banjo Playing Emily Yates Arrested In Independence Park

Rangers say she kicked and spit on them.

Over the weekend, the above video began making the rounds on Facebook. It shows a 30-year-old California woman named Emily Yates (right) being restrained by rangers in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historic Park — yes, the birthplace of liberty — after she was just chilling in the park with her banjo on a warm summer day. Or at least that’s what the video seems to show.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice’s criminal complaint against Yates surfaced. Here’s what the DOJ alleges:

On August 31, 2013, at approximately 3:25 p.m., NPS Ranger Eli Bowers, on duty and in uniform, approached a woman who was standing on federal property in Independence National Historical Park (“the Park”). The woman was standing in an area closed to the public inside the Park… At that time, the area was fenced off with “bicycle rack” fencing and closed for emergency use by the NPS and Philadelphia law enforcement officers to process evidence seized, if any, at an unpermitted marijuana legalization rally that was to take place later that afternoon. In fact, later that day, officers used the closed area to catalog the seizure of marijuana from several people who openly smoked marijuana at that rally.

When Ranger Bowers approached the woman who was standing in the closed area he asked her to leave the closed area. The woman refused to leave. Ranger Bowers repeated his request and the woman again refused to leave. Ranger Bowers then ordered the woman to leave the closed area and gave her one minute to comply with his order. The woman did not comply with his order and did not leave the closed area at the conclusion of the one minute.

Ranger Bowers and United States Fish and Wildlife Service Officer Derik Pinsonneault then took hold of the woman’s arms to escort her from the area. The woman actively resisted the officers by tensing her arms and fists and by trying to pull away. As Ranger Bowers attempted to place her in handcuffs, the woman leaned over a bench and began kicking Ranger Bowers and other officers who came to assist. The officers had to restrain each of her legs in order to control her. The officers eventually handcuffed the woman and carried her to a more secure area approximately ten yards away where officers checked her for weapons.

The woman continued to kick at officers and scratched NPS Ranger Layla Schade, who was trying to control the woman’s hands. Schade ordered the woman to stop scratching, and other officers ordered the woman to stop kicking. The woman responded to these orders with screams and expletives and she continued resisting. After an officer had checked her for weapons, officers carried the woman ten more yards to an NPS patrol car while she continued kicking at officers.

Officers placed the woman in the back seat… As Ranger Bowers was leaning in to secure the seatbelt, the woman spit in Ranger Bowers face, spraying saliva on his face. The woman then attempted to bite Ranger Juan Ibanez who was trying to restrain the woman…

On Tuesday, Yates was released from federal custody on a $25,000 bond after being charged with resisting arrest, failure to obey law enforcement officers and disorderly conduct. Hopefully she got her banjo back. Yates did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If you’re so inclined, you can make a donation to the Emily Yates Defense Fund. Or just pick up a copy of her album, I’ve Got Your Folk Songs Right Here, which features the catchy track “Try Not to Be a Dick”.

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  • Eco Az

    I must say, it wouldn’t have been a big deal to simply move outside the area as asked. While I believe the arrest was ham handed and not justified, Emily behaved like an ass. Really.

    • officer twunt

      Get the fuck off the internet before I detain you falsely for expressing an opinion.

      This is America.

    • Veteran No Medicine

      You successfully created your false opinion based on a persuasive article. Use critical thinking skills before you make yourself look like a moron.

      • Phil Ford

        The video is online everywhere. There’s plenty of scope to develop an opinion on Ms Yate’s little stunt.

  • WM

    I m NOT inclined, to make a donation to the Emily Yates Defense Fund. However, I would be inclined to make a donation to help Emily Yates buy the medication she obviously need. When the police ask you to leave an area “Just do It” they are asking you for a reason don’t act like a spoiled 3 year old child and start kicking and screaming. When you act like a child you should be treated like one and taken to “Time out” good job park ranger..

    • officer twunt

      Did you see her kicking? Getting falsely arrested is no laughing matter, and mental impairments aren’t a joke. Say that kinda shit in front of me, and you’re getting chokeslammed.


        by mental imparment you ment her PTSD by serving in the military right? cause i hope she got a few good licks on those cops

    • Veteran No Medicine

      No Miranda Rights were given. It was an unlawful arrest. When you section a “off limits” area it needs to be displayed as such. I saw no such signs. Unlawful arrest and they didn’t even tell her she was under arrest. Maybe later they did while 8 of them sat on her.

      • Phil Ford

        Yes because there really are people on this planet who are so dumb that they can’t recognize a cordoned off area populated exclusively by police and their equipment. There really are people who are so stupid and or obtuse that they actually need a “sign” to explain to them what 99.9% of the rest of us can recognize because the rest of us possess common farking sense.

        She knew exactly what she’d get when she went across the barrier into the cops’ little camp. She’s the only one who went across and she’s the only one the cops even paid any attention to. And she wouldn’t leave until she got exactly what she wanted which was this little Kodak moment.

        • Valiah

          Even though she was in an off-limits area, she was merely asking questions, peacefully. I’m sure two of those big strong men could have taken her by the arms and escorted her from the area without injury. Instead it took 8 guys, 6 of them manhandling her at one point, and no rights were read to her. They created the Kodak moment.

          • TMonkey

            No offense, but you guys will use any angle to try to make unnecessary civil disobedience justified. Whether or not there was a sign that clearly signified the area was off limits…if the police asks you 3 times to move, you should move. Seriously, you’re not going to tell me it’s soooo important that she be in that specific spot…and not on the other side of a bicycle rack. Give us a break guys…I’m the last person that’s going to defend the police when they are wrong or being unreasonable, but how about picking battles worth fighting instead of setting yourselves up for petty Youtube videos. You lose credibility when you behave like children.

          • Mike_H

            This attitude troubles me. This isn’t a police state. Police have to follow the rules as much as we do, and the very LAST thing a red-blooded American should do is just “whatever the police tell me, whether they are right are wrong.”

            Given that there’s more to the story than what’s in the video, it’s really not your call that she didn’t indeed pick a battle she felt was worth fighting for.

            And even if it wasn’t, there’s such a thing as “proportional response”. It also troubles me how upset — and over-the-top — that some police officers get when they feel their “authority” is questioned. They take it too personally and they go too far.

            All of us should remember the only authority they have is gained through the Constitution, which *constrains* their powers more than anything. (Or it was supposed to, originally, a fact we seem to be forgetting too often in modern times.)

          • Phil Ford

            She wasn’t “merely asking questions”. She was willfully ignoring every single explanation they gave her and intentionally being a massive pain in the ass until they just got tired of it. Also, moron Emily could have asked the same questions 20 inches away on the other side of the barrier. She knew that…. but she chose not to.

          • It’s Just Not Right

            They didn’t give her an explanation. They told her she didn’t need to know. Also they probably would have told her to ‘GTFO’ if she had ask any questions anywhere else.

          • Bill Hubbell

            Were you standing next to her? If not then STFU idiot.

          • KenFusion

            They DID try to “take her by the arms and escort her from the area without injury”. Instead, she chose to resist and fight them. Oh well…

          • Congrats for Common Sence

            I full agree with you here,if anyone created this moment it was them. All she wanted was answers.

      • BeJebus

        how do you know they didn’t mirandize her? stfu dumbass.

      • InformedCitizen

        Miranda rights only apply to questioning. Law enforcement has to read you your Miranda rights if you are under arrest and being questioned. Yates was under arrest but not being questioned. No Miranda necessary until questioning.

        • Miranda Warning

          When the Miranda Warning Is Required

          It doesn’t matter whether an interrogation occurs in a jail, at the
          scene of a crime, on a busy downtown street, or the middle of an open
          field: If a person is in custody (deprived of his or her freedom of
          action in any significant way), the police must read them their Miranda
          rights if they want to question the suspect and use the suspect’s
          answers as evidence at trial.

          If a person is not in police custody, however, no Miranda warning is
          required and anything the person says can be used at trial if the person
          is later charged with a crime. This exception most often comes up when
          the police stop someone on the street to question him or her about a
          recent crime or the person blurts out a confession before the police
          have an opportunity to deliver the warning.

    • Jason O

      When a pig tells you to do something, just do it. WM will be the downfall of America.

      • WM

        Yes, listen to the pigs. The same pigs Jason O calls when he is scared of the noise he heard in his closet..

  • Andrew

    Does nobody care about the emotional impact of war on abandoned and used soldiers? While it is obvious that Yates pressed the issue and purposely caused this event, can we look at a culture that doesn’t bat an eye at 8 men tackling a non-violent woman? Can we look at a culture that doesn’t provide care for it’s military upon return home? Can we look at a culture that doesn’t psychologically prepare these people and abandons them to live out their days as live-wire gaping wounds who feel completely and utterly alone?

    • officer twunt

      When criminal actions are committed by the police, and dissent is criminalized, civil disobedience is the price we pay for democracy.

    • WM

      Yes that is why I would donation to help Emily Yates buy the medication she obviously need.

      • Congrats for Common Sence

        You disgust me, talking about a veteran that way! She fought for your ‘freedom of speech’ and your way of life! How dare you compare her to someone who has to be medicated to function in society. She has most likely done an seen more horrible things than you can imagine. She did it for you, me, and everyone else who can call themselves and American and maybe even a few that can’t. So why don’t you think twice about calling someone a mental patient. You sir would not be able to handle what she has been through, and if you had you wouldn’t be so naive and arrogant!

    • Congrats for Common Sence

      Congratulations sir, you have the true spirit and overwhelming intelligence of a TRUE American, and I applaud you. Thank you for your incite we need more like you to speak up and rise up. This can not be tolerated, lest we be dictated.

  • fred

    they knew what they were doing cops are out of control all over this country.

  • Philadelphia, your treatment of this issue is why I choose not to spend money in your city unless necessary. This could have been deescalated another way, without using eight officers. Furthermore, there are so many inconsistencies between the video and the complaint that it isn’t funny-as if it ever was. This latest incident of police brutality, aimed towards a fellow veteran of the Iraq war (referred to in military circles as “Operation Iraqi Freedom”) has inclined me to extend the uni digit salute in your direction. If you did this to a woman, would you have shot me?

    • barrygster

      These were Feds not city police.

      • Veteran No Medicine

        Did you see the “city Police” sitting on their bikes watching this happen? Yeah yeah jurisdiction is a folly when it comes to this.

  • Mr_R

    So they cordon off part of a park, we are told, so they can stash away “evidence” they plan to seize whilst attacking people in a peaceful crowd. That alone is a provocative stance to take. That’s what a police state does.

  • officer twunt

    How the fuck did she scratch someone while cuffed? I’m a political activist who’s been handcuffed, and you can’t even scratch yourself in cuffs.

    Fuck these lying bastards with all the dicks.

  • edlarson

    The Scenes in the Video do not agree with the “official Statement” in the criminal complaint. At no time in the Video is a warning given to this woman. No one Minute to leave was stated. No notice of Arrest was given, the men simply laid hands on her. I also did not see any resistance on her part other than verbal. I did not see her kicking at anyone, but I did see one officer holding her legs. I did not see that she was removed to another location, they simply carried her off. She was handcuffed, how then did she scratch one of the officers? I also did not see any “bicycle rack fencing” in the video. It appeared that the officers simply removed her without any obstruction from bicycle racks.
    My question for the officers involved is this, when the woman being arrested asks you “What are you doing, take your Hands off of me…” Why was no answer given such as, “We are placing you under Arrest…?”

    • Just Me

      You can see the barricades at this link

      • TMonkey

        The magic of video editing. It’s not coincidence that 90% of these videos start when the arguing is already taking place. Back up 5 or 10 minutes and then say the police didn’t do anything right and that she was perfectly reasonable in every way. It’s like this way more often then it should be. Be transparent and show the whole video.

      • WestforkEastbound

        Yeap, defiantly behind a well established bicycle rack fence.

    • Phil Ford

      Man I hope you didn’t give yourself a charlie horse trying to avoid seeing the other videos that everyone and their brother have linked. Must be tough being that blind.

    • KenFusion

      WOW. In the video, the officer can clearly be heard saying, “It’s now 5:14. As of 5:15, this area is closed. So, in 60 seconds, if you don’t leave, we’re going to escort you out.” She then starts going on her rant about “why” and “secret government” and so on. The officer responds, repeatedly saying, “I’ve already told you why.” She was then given SEVERAL more warnings and opportunities to leave.

  • marcus_1948

    This could have been handled better by the police/park officers; I mean just look at how many- one officer who I guess was suggesting a ticket got waved away!!

    However , this is a warning sign to the mess our public sphere is facing.

    An underlying reality is that these guys( well dressed/well insured/ well paid/ with pension ,( some who may be veterans as well) are now; vs the people (others) who are not. (who indirectly pay for them)

    This stokes a divide that smolders.

    It deflects attention from the actual structure of state and society. “just doing my job” but for Who?

    It may be a stunt , pain inducing for her and “cartoonish” for the officers but it acts as a mirror reflecting the growing gap inside the sucker class(most of us).
    -sort of like poor Obama’s –red line–

    • KenFusion

      He was waved away because they were not even going to cite her, just escort her from the restricted area. She escalated it by resisting, which turned it into an arrest.

  • Jason O

    This is a Police State, and I am calling for a Constitutional Convention. It is time for people to Stand up for the US Constitution.

    • WM

      Jason O just go back to your home land

  • Al Waishard

    A banjo-playin’ lesbian is probable cause for an arrest.

  • Vadim Rapp

    Depending on how the law is worded, the arrest might or might not be unlawful. For example, in some states officer’s order must be obeyed only if it is given in order to prevent public disturbance. The police can’t just issue orders to bystanders as they please and expect them to obey, it’s not the Army. But that depends on the state. I searched for “failure to obey” in PA code, and did not find anything relevant.

    That said, Emily’s behavior was pathetic. Quite obviously, the rangers did instruct her to leave the area, or else. It’s visible that they talked to her first, then left, then came back and talked again, and only then arrested. I would be very surprised if they did not warn her before they left first time. Whether it was lawful or not, is a separate story, but they did order her to leave, and did warn her. She decided not to comply. Fine, but then don’t act so alarmed when you are arrested. When you decide to disobey, you should know that arrest will most likely commence. It was your choice to obey or not, you chose not to, fine, so walk the walk. Don’t scream, don’t yell, and certainly don’t try to kick them with your legs, which she quite likely did.

    • KenFusion

      It was a National Park, and she was arrested by Park Police, she was charged under federal statute, not PA statute.

  • phunnyphilly

    Yes, they’re Feds, not Philly cops (though likely hired from a similar pool of local talent). Philly cops probably would have just punched her in the mouth. It’s nice to have another youtube video to show the world how well law enforcement treats the fairer sex in our fair city.

  • BeJebus

    jesus christ what a bitch. just move your fucking ass when you’re told!

    • Your The Problem

      I am always troubled with people who have your attitude in this country of Freedom, if you just do what your told all the time even if it doesn’t make sense or if it doesn’t seem right and you just ‘go with it’ because someone in charge (who you put in power btw) told you to ‘GTFO’ for no apparent (< this means obvious or clearly visible) reason. You sir/madam are the problem that is befalling our great nation, you and your brethren of blind followers to the ways of the government and its over reach of power.

    • Your The Problem

      Also I would much rather not see people us Gods name in vain in such a way.

  • Worthless Veteran

    In all seriousness what most fail to see is it does not matter if they do this to a Veteran who some of you are most willing vilify or as a Citizen it is WRONG!
    A citizen has the right to question a Police officer in the performance of their duties and has a right to get an answer in return without having to be manhandled like this woman was! The officer who initiated this action should be charged and arrested. The video alone shows he was not part of the conversation. He was hovering around in the background to do harm and thats what he did. A proper professional police barricade is well marked and not them telling you wrong side of a park bench. This was done very sloppy, unprofessional, and Unconstitutional.

    • Congrats for Common Sence

      Thank you, you sir/madam have achieved the greatest of things. Having a over abundance of common sense please use it generously.

  • Stephanie Johnston

    it was evident throughout the video that the officers were using excessive force and physically hurting emily. i’ve had my arm twisted behind my back. it hurts! and it wasn’t necessary. all those officers had to do was inform her why she had to leave the area. she wasn’t being belligerent she was simply asking for an explanation and i suspect she would have complied if given the reasonable explanation stated above. the officers made the decision to bully and physically abuse instead of simply taking two extra seconds to explain. it’s called “dick swinging” and there’s entirely too much of it in law enforcement these days!

  • Daniel Martin

    Multiple police officers will take down someone who does not leave an area after being requested to do so. If this is news to anyone, they should wake up. I don’t see evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the police in a story.

    • Alex Sawyer

      Then you’re blind.

  • DecenttDiscourse

    This is a woman who does not at all mind misleading the public into thinking she was victimized. There was a pro-marijuana rally at the park held without any of the required permits. Park Service turned a blind eye to that and let it go ahead, staying in communications with the organizers. Some in the rally flagrantly violated federal law. No blind eye there. They were being arrested as needed. Police needed a small area of the park to process those arrests. They asked her to please move a few yards away to any place else in the park. They asked several times. She refused. They warned her, and she refused. She left no choice but a confrontation and she acted like a complete jerk, kicking, resisting, spitting. She has not earned the compassionate support of anyone for what “happened” to her. She was the cause of the nature of her arrest. We’ve all seen what a no-resist arrest looks like. The person is cuffed and then walks calmly to where the police take them. She didn’t do that and required a lot of force to remove her safely.

    • BEN Dover

      IDIOT… who decides people need permits? We have a RIGHT to assemble in PUBLIC places. YOU are such a bent over victim of stupidity. I hope when the economy collapses you need the help of those who are more informed and liberty minded… your bending over skills may come in handy for MANY.

      • RM03

        All cities in the US require permits for special use of park spaces. Many parks have restricted hours set (even beaches). From what I can see, the problem here isn’t with the police – they were doing their job and she wasn’t complying. If this woman had an issue with the city allowing a small part of the park to be closed during regular hours, she should take it up with the parks and recreation department and the city counsel to figure out a better solution for the next event. When we have problems with how our tax dollars are being spent, it doesn’t do any good starting fights with the police – they don’t create city budgets or decide to close parks on their own.

      • Keith Shannon

        And it was designated for police use and marked off. They are already holding confiscated marijuana.

    • UrAnIdiot

      She simply asked why and what authority they had to ask her to move from a public place and was told “that’s classified”… Then they snatched her up from behind. Question? What law did she break?

      • Darryl E Berry Jr

        It’s into telling how they take so many people in, and they are charged with only thing that they claim happen AFTER they started assaulting the person: resisting arrest (but there was no crime she broke that she was getting arrested for in the future place), failure to obey law enforcement officers (so now apparently we have no rights to self-determination, just because they are law enforcement we must obey them or get charged with not obeying them), and disorderly conduct (apparently resisting having your rights infringed is disorderly conduct). Head shaking inciting scenario.

      • Darryl E Berry Jr

        P.S. Or else they lie and make up a charge or crime, or plant things to fabricate a crime.

    • Keith Shannon

      I actually lived with her in Oakland. Were all veterans and lived together after the incident with my old roommate Scott Olsen. Yeah she is full of it a lot of the time.

      • Keith Shannon

        Our friendship what there was ended after she barged into my house without knocking screaming at me and Scott because she found an empty insulin syringe bag in the back yard. I’m a recovering addict and she just wouldn’t accept my answer that I wasn’t out back injecting heroin in the back yard of our fourplex. She has a very large break from logic at times and thinks she is above everyone. I’m super liberal but that group took a nose dive towards anarchy. I had to made the San Francisco Itlraq veterans against the war cause of it.

        She is a very talented musician all though 95% of her success is because she is married to front man and lead singer of Hot Buttered Rum Eric Yates. He is extremely talented.

  • Phillip Textor

    Defense fund? Why? She got what she had coming.

    • Alex Sawyer

      She deserved being assaulted by a bunch of pigs?


    D NOT BELIEVE THIS NARRATIVE… these stormtroopers are MAObama’s new military… this is a WAR on AMERICANS. RESPOND ACCORDINGLY.

    • davehorne

      Yes, he’s already taken our guns … and those death squads from Obamacare are already in place.

  • Matt Weiss

    I strongly object to the characterization of the barriers as “bicycle racks.”

    These devices make terrible bicycle racks.

  • KenFusion

    Does anyone else notice the fact that a woman with a pro-weed banjo album to sell shows up before an weed rally, gets arrested while talking directly to a camera operated by a friend of hers (which winds up on YouTube), raises many thousands of dollars for a “defense fund”, and has a website asking people to buy her album…?

  • davehorne

    I have a strict rule that there will be no banjo playing at my funeral. As a professional musician I can state the world is a better place with one less banjo player.


      youre an un-American shitbag for insulting a women who served our country….hope you die a slow, painful, agonizing death while your worthless inbred family watches.

      • davehorne

        Why is it that conservatives have no sense of irony … or a command of grammar?