Alright, so I heard about this on the radio earlier this week, but I’ve been so busy getting ready for college and other stuff that I just haven’t had time to post this.
So, here’s what happened:
On August 4th, in La Marque, Texas, 28-year-old Kathryn “Kristi” Fridge went with her mother to the local Walmart (FM 1764 and Interstate 45) with her mother and 2-year-old daugter to get supplies in preparation for impending Tropical Storm Eduardo.
She went over to buy batteries, but there were none left. Fridge told reporters, “I was like, ‘Dang.’ I looked at my mom and said, ‘They’re all f***ing gone.'”
Captain Alfred Decker, the La Marque assistant fire marshal (certified by the state of Texas as firefighter, peace officer, fire investigator and fire inspector) came up to her in uniform, and told her, “You need to watch your mouth” (quote from Fridge).
Fridge told reporters, “I was like, ‘Oh, OK. Sorry?'”
Decker ordered Fridge to follow him to his car, because that was where his citation book was, but she protested. She eventually listened, but as he led her to his car, she yelled to some on-lookers, “Can you believe this? He’s f***ing arresting me for saying ‘f***’!”
She later told reporters, “When I got outside, I saw he was a fire marshal — I saw his car. I said, ‘You’re not even a cop!’ He said, ‘I can do this.'”
Decker then asked for her name, and she spelled it out both verbally and in sign language (according to her – Decker hasn’t commented because there’s a pending court case). She said that this angered him and he handcuffed her.
But La Marque Fire Chief Todd Zacherl said that because Fridge made a scene, Decker was forced to act. He told reporters, “She cussed him, she cussed everybody. By now, we have a huge group of people looking.” Fridge denies this saying that she never cursed at Decker. Her mother (Kathryn Rice, from Santa Fe) backed up her story, saying, “She never got nasty with him; she never cussed at him.”
Zacherl went on to say that Decker handcuffed her for his own safety, because Fridge was being belligerent and Decker had to turn his back to get his citation book and run her name to see if she had any warrants.
Fridge was then ticketed for disorderly conduct (a Class C misdemeanor) and then released.
On August 7th, Fridge went to the La Marque Fire Department to speak with Zacherl, and she took forms to file an official complaint, but as of last week had not filed the papers yet.
She told reporters, “I’m not out to sue or get money—I just want them to drop this ticket. Yes, I probably shouldn’t have cussed in public, but he took it way too far.”
Zacherl disagreed, saying, “When you’re in uniform, you have to uphold the laws. It’s like if he was on the way home and saw a drunk driver—he had to act.”
Personally, I think the fire marshal was perfectly in the right here. He handcuffed her for his own safety. He didn’t arrest her, he detained her. This is a common practice that police officers use to ensure their safety. It was HER who caused the scene, not him. It was either handcuff her or call for back-up (which would mean calling the police department, since it’s not the fire marshal’s job to back somebody up like that).
As for the legality of the ticket, it’s perfectly within Texas law. You can’t go around swearing. The public as a whole has decided that they do not want profanity allowed in public (they did this by electing the officials who put that law into practice, and have not disagreed with that law by passing a citizen sponsored initiative to overturn it).
This was done in a public place where there are children who don’t need to be subjected to profanity. I know little 3-year-olds who go around using the f-word because their parents just curse whenever they want to.
This isn’t a violation of free speech. I can’t go up to a little 4-year-old and say, “Hey you little f****er!” so saying it within hearing distance of anybody else violates that principle of “breach[ing] the peace”.
On the radio show that I heard the story on, there was a caller who said she should file assault charges, since he touched her without her consent. He is a certified officer, and has an obligation to uphold the law. While upholding the law, he is exempt to some degree from assault charges. He didn’t abuse her, he handcuffed her. Criminals can’t sue cops for touching them as they are handcuffed, and this case is NO different.
The fact that there was an outcry because of this (although most reaction was in the fireman’s favor) shocks me. Where is our sense of law and order? There’s a difference between civil liberties and anarchy, but the two are beginning to become confused in the minds of many Americans.
Tags: Alfred Decker, Assault, Assistant Fire Marshal, Civil Liberties, Court, Court Case, crime, Criminal, criminals, Disorderly conduct, Fire Chief, Fire Marshal, Firefighter, Fireman, First Amendment, Freedom, Freedom of Speech, Freedoms, Handcuff, Handcuffs, Kathryn Fridge, Kathryn Rice, Kristi Fridge, La Marque, La Marque Fire Department, Law, Law and Order, Laws, Liberties, Liberty, misdemeanor, Police, Profanity, Santa Fe, Texas, Ticket, Todd Zacherl, Walmart