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”.

  • 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.

    • 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.

      • BeJebus

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

    • 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.

  • fred

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.farquharson.7 Sean Farquharson

    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.

  • 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–

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Phillip Textor

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

  • HITLER=OBAMA=MAO

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

  • Matt Weiss

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

    These devices make terrible bicycle racks.

  • RW

    Having served in the military myself, I am aware of how after years of having one’s life controlled and being ordered around day and night, one develops a certain antipathy towards authority figures. Emily’s behavior is perhaps understandable in these terms. Yes, she should have moved on and complained later to these cops’ superiors. On the other hand, it is clear from the footage that the cops went out of their way to inflict considerable pain on her–quite unnecessarily–and that their treatment of her was totally out of proportion to the offense. They should have pointedly ushered her out of the area and–perhaps–given her a ticket. I was enraged by what I saw in the video, and feel lucky not to have been there, as I might have reacted foolishly.

  • RW

    Another thing–the police report that Emily leaned over a bench is demonstrably untruthful. The police put her over the bench as they were cuffing her, and it must have been very painful. Having cuffed her, the cops squeezed her elbows together to inflict more pain. Observers present believed that the police were trying to choke her as they carried her off.

  • stk33

    Hard to believe it’s from someone who calls his country “land of the free, home of the brave”.

  • stk33

    “They should have pointedly ushered her out of the area”

    I wonder, what authority the cops had to designate an area for themselves and order everyone out? If this is public land, you can’t just declare that certain piece of it is now yours and everyone should leave. I don’t think it’s different even for the cops. I’m sure there’s statute that allows that in specific cases, such as crime scene, and then the area must be clearly marked in certain way – yellow tape etc. I hope competent lawyer will look into this.

  • stk33

    Could you please explain, why is it so necessary to obey the order if it’s illegal?

    If the cops have illegally designated an area for themselves, without following requirements of the city statute, and are ordering everybody out, because they prepare to attack peaceful demonstration, you say it’s a good idea to obey, “cooperate”, and move?

    I say it’s exactly the opposite.

  • Worthless Veteran

    They should have shot her between the eyes she is just a Worthless Veteran or Citizen

  • officer twunt

    I took an arrest for being in a parking lot on County owned property. Be pissed: Your tax dollars are going to pay for my big fat stinky settlement. As the old song goes, “This land is your land, this land is my land.”

    When freedom is threatened by the powers that be, civil disobedience becomes civic duty, my friend. I hope it isn’t too late before you get on the right side of history.

  • WM

    Public land this is not pubic land, its stolen land. Stolen from my ancestors by “most likely” your ancestors…what a joke this Emily issue is, now she know how my people felt..oh no take that back my people’s land was stolen and they “men women and children” were killed. So I guess Emily got of easy. Welcome to the white man’s world.

  • Phil Ford

    I doubt if she stands a chance legally. The NPS will be well within its rights to establish a small operations area for the field officers. Crazy bajo lady had a really big park to play in but she was only interested in the tiny bit where the cops kept their equipment. She wanted to get busted and she did just that.

  • RW

    Listen to the voice of experience: On the whole, if a cop tells you to get out of a certain area, you’d better get out–that’s just the way things work, regardless of any statutes. If you believe the cop acted improperly, you should complain to his or her superiors. If you don’t wish to take the trouble to do that, just blow it off and go your merry way. A good rule of thumb is never to get into an argument with any person who is carrying a gun. My real problem with what happened here is the use of excessive force and the deliberate infliction of pain by the officers, especially the sadist in the polo shirt. Also, the officers lied in their report, stating that Emily had bent over the back of a park bench whereas they had clearly thrown her over the back of the bench.

  • Benjamin Kibbey

    Aws in, the ones in NYC who watched from a safe distance while a private citizen fought with and finally restrained a knife-wielding mad man, only finally stepping in when the man – who was stabbed several times in the assault – had the attacker restrained? The police who then took credit for the “nab” and the city that fought in court to prove that in no place in the U.S. are police in any way obligated to come to the aid of a citizen in distress?

    Police should be working as public servants, and they should view themselves as such. Instead, we are gradually coming to a point where they serve and answer only to the state and those wealthy enough to own influence through the state, and where they get of of tickets for going 140 in a 65 on their private motorcycles like that city cop in Columbus Ohio a little while back.

    When police see their job as one of servitude rather than privilege and authority, your logic might begin to apply. As it is, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

    I was in Iraq too, and I expect the police in my country to at least show as much respect and restraint with our citizens as we are expected to show to enemy combatants. Whatever Emily’s behavior here, she was not even shown that.

  • Jason O

    You should be hung for your treason.

  • Worthless Veteran

    I agree she was on the wrong side of the park bench and they should have shot her. She is a worthless Veteran.

  • Richard La France

    That’s right, Phil Ford, and she’s a military veteran who served to protect your fucking to say what happened was okay. It’s not okay. We veterans are sick of the treatment (or lack thereof) that we get for serving our nation. Have you seen the video that shoes the backlog of veterans’ requests? Boxes upon boxes. I can’t even get financial assistance from the VA because my Social Security payment is considered above what they consider poverty. So I went without electricity for two months because this country doesn’t give a flying fuck about its veterans because we’re not stuffing goddam politicians’ pockets with money. We just color the ground with our blood and that has no value to those motherfuckers in Washington, D.C. or in any of the state legislatures in this nation. So cram your sympathy for the park police up your ass and go out and at least thank a veteran for your freedom, asshole.

  • Stephanie Johnston

    i’ve watched the video several times and heard not one single explanation. only directives.

  • ross francis

    your putting things in there that is not there moron

  • Worthless Veteran

    The Constitution doesn’t apply they are the POLICE and it is suspended when you are a Worthless Veteran or a Citizen.

  • Worthless Veteran

    I agree with you they should of chokeslammed her to death she is just a Worthless Veteran!

  • Worthless Veteran

    I agree with you that park bench is a barricade and she should have beaten within a inch of her life.

  • Worthless Veteran

    Police and Monkeys unite and KILL Worthless Veterans and Citizens! I agree with you she did everything wrong and they should be able to put hands on her and bend her over a park bench without telling her she is being arrested and the Police should have the right to arrest anyone they don’t like particularly because she is a Worthless Veteran and a Citizen! Killing is better, less paper work.

  • Worthless Veteran

    I agree they should have gassed her and then Obama could come with 15000 Russians he has requested from Russia for FEMA Region III that is this area and Washington DC to be trained to do this job better and more efficiently and less regard for the Constitution than the Park Police to deal with this Worthless Veteran and Citizens!

  • Worthless Veteran

    I agree kill all the Lesbian Worthless Veterans and while their at it the Worthless Ford’s and Dodge’s

  • Worthless Veteran

    I agree when they come into a public park administered by the Federal Government they should ham handed and not with justice or rule of law they shouldn’t arrest her but just kill her for behaving like an ass. Really? She is a Worthless Veteran a disposable Citizen.

  • Worthless Veteran

    I agree and the Police bent her over a park bench and handcuffed her so she could scratch them better. She obviously was easily able to scratch and kick them because of the girly boy’s holding her legs and handcuffs on her wrists. Thats what the Police do when they want to get scratched and kicked. Not that they might have wanted to remove the Worthless Veteran from their space loading many false charges on her and if I see you in my space, and any place you stand is my space, in a Federal park I will do the same. Who should care she’s a Worthless Veteran and your a Worthless Citizen.

  • officer twunt

    I’m not sure, perhaps I was misunderstood, or you’re agreeing sarcastically. I was talking to the guy who thinks we should imprison our veterans playing banjo in Public parks. I’m a guy who took an arrest for the constitution, too.

  • officer twunt

    Ahh, I see what you did there. Well played. And thanks for your service.

  • Just Me

    no beyond the park bench is metal barricades. In the video that I had posted showed the barricades.

  • Phil Ford

    Veteran status does not confer the right on anyone to be an idiot.

    Me? US ARMY 12 Bravo SSG… six years, one combat deployment. I keep my medals in the closet instead of waving them in everyone’s face as if it made my viewpoint more valid.

  • Phil Ford

    Because it’s a Federal Park? Because the NPS administers the Federal Parks? Because the NPS has the right to make reasonable restrictions to the public’s access to every single corner of the park i.e. you just can’t stroll into the ranger’s station and play with government equipment. Ever been to a National Park? You can’t just go everywhere you please. The key word is “reasonable”. Cordoning off a small area for the Rangers to store their gear and commo seems very reasonable to me. She had the rest of the park to do her protesting but she was more interested in rattling someone’s cage.

  • Stephanie Johnston

    i agree jason

  • JohnBull

    Land of the free my ass. No thanks to you.

  • JohnBull

    It already fell. Let the Chinese come in and take over already. They arrest fewer people than we do.

  • Phil Ford

    It only took me once to see that much of it was unintelligible. Even then you don’t have the right to grill field officers on what your tax dollars are going towards. They don’t owe you an explanation. Every law enforcement organization has some overfed, overpaid person who will pick up the phone and answer all those questions. But Banjo snowflake girl thinks she can just badger the grunts with her government conspiracy questions. It don’t work like that.

  • ross francis

    well said

  • ross francis

    do you even understand the situation at hand or are you angry at any body that resists authority ,
    you do live in a free county you know.

  • ross francis

    you talk about other people commen sense , yes she should have bin arested if what the NPS statments are true but have you herd the saying let the punishment fit the crime ? The NPS went way over bored Mr. common sense