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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