Caroline Stern & George Hess, NYC Couple, Arrested and Jailed for 23 Hours for Dancing on Subway Platform
A New York City couple was arrested and jailed for nearly a day for dancing on a subway platform and attempting to film the police officers who apprehended them.
The New York Post reports that Caroline Stern, age 55 and her boyfriend George Hess, 54, have filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan against the city of New York over the July, 2011 incident.
According to the suit, the couple was heading home late one night after a swing dancing event at Lincoln Center when they came across a busker playing steel drums. Captivated by the tropical beat, Hess, a film industry prop master and Stern, a dentist, began dancing with joyous abandon on the subway platform.
“We were doing the Charleston,” Stern explained to the Post.
That’s when their troubles began. A pair of NYPD officers approached them and asked what they were doing.
“We’re dancing,” Stern replied.
“You can’t do that on the platform,” one of the officers told her. He asked for their IDs and when Stern could only show a credit card with her photo and signature, the officers ordered the couple to go with them.
Hess then attempted to film the proceedings, an act well within his legal rights. But the officers called for backup.
“That’s when eight ninja cops came from out of nowhere,” Hess told the Post.
Hess alleges he was thrown to the ground as he and Stern were handcuffed and arrested. They were charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct for “impeding the flow of traffic.” But Stern contests this charge, claiming there were only around three people on the platform.
The couple spent 23 hours in police custody before being released.
“It was absolutely ridiculous that this happened,” Stern told the Post.
“If you are surrounded by good musicians, that’s going to make you want to dance,” she added. “The musician who is playing is legal, but… we’re illegal?”
The charges against the couple were later dropped.
This is not the first case of individuals being arrested for dancing in public spaces. Last May, Adam Kokesh, an Iraq war veteran turned peace activist and journalist was arrested at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. for dancing quietly to protest a court ruling against such dancing.
Brooke Oberwetter, a Washington, D.C. resident, was also arrested at the same spot for dancing silently in 2008.