Felipe Fernandez-Armesto: Wins support from reader in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Historians in the News

[Bittner, of Atlanta, is academic liaison for The Nation magazine and six months ago attended the American Historical Association convention, during which the incident occurred.]

Atlanta's finest jaywalk right into mockery

The findings of the police investigation into the arrest and injury of world-renowned historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto for jaywalking were preposterous ("Inquiry clears officer, but jaywalker won't step back," Page 1, July 5).

The report found that the arresting officer acted "appropriately." However, if that were indeed true, the city of Atlanta would never have been held up to ridicule by most of the civilized world, the American Historical Association would not be threatening to take their future convention business elsewhere, an admired visitor would not be contemplating a lawsuit against the city, the photograph of a group of "Atlanta's finest" would never have mockingly been displayed on the front page of British newspapers, and the taxpaying residents of the city would not be picking up the tab for either the arrest and jailing or for the six-month investigation that stemmed from this jaywalking incident.

Obviously, a simple jaywalking citation presented to the historian at the time of the violation would have been a considerably more "appropriate" method of managing this cosmic legal transgression. The Atlanta Police Department owes Fernandez-Armesto as well as the taxpayers of Atlanta an apology. To not issue one would be inappropriate indeed.

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