Cops Slam, Choke Dancers at Jefferson Memorial

Park police do a number on demonstrating dancers
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2011 2:21 AM CDT
Updated May 31, 2011 4:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – An investigation has been launched after DC park cops were filmed roughing up Jefferson Memorial ... dancers. Some 5 people slowly danced among amused spectators over the weekend to protest a court decision banning dancing at the memorial. When police asked dancers to identify their leader, one pointed to the statue of Thomas Jefferson, reports ABC News. "This is a public space," warned one of the cops. That's when they began shoving and grabbing dancers, then throwing one to the ground. "What is going on here?" someone can be heard asking on the tape.

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The police Office of Professional Responsibility is now conducting an investigation to determine if excessive force was used. A federal judge ruled early this year that dancing at the memorial was an illegal demonstration and not an expression of free speech. Such activites interfere with the "tranquil and contemplative mood" intended for the memorial so people could appropriately honor Jefferson's memory, he ruled. "You're not allowed to have free speech in the memorial to Thomas Jefferson, the champion of free speech," grumbled one of the protesters before he was hauled off to jail. (Read more police stories.)

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