“Word of Warning for those playing Softball on the Mall” (and drinking beer)


@miss_malaska tweets us:

“calling for backup and arresting 4 attorneys @ rec softball on the #Mall”

A reader also forwards an email:

“…as my team was leaving the Mall yesterday, there were 3 park police cop cars by a softball team (not our league) on the ellipse. 4 softball players were handcuffed in the back of the car. We asked the team what happened, and they said the cops came over and said they had warned teams about beer last week and were arresting people for open containers this week. Not tickets, not citations, HANDCUFFED IN COP CARS.

While this offends me on so many levels (this is an arrestable offense? you warn one softball player and assume everyone has been warned? etc), I strongly recommend you DO NOT drink beer on the Ellipse. So far I haven’t seen any action taken on the Mall side of Constitution but be careful.”

209 Comment

  • Meanwhile, you can chain smoke around children all you want. No laws against that.

    • Nope no law against that. Huh go figure? A legal product being used in public. wow! Not all of us here on earth are here to protect your children from a fake threat. Indoors I get it. Outdoors is, well, the outdoors. ie plenty of space for your precious kids to breath all the other toxins in.

    • brookland_rez

      Park Police are the worst. Back in the day I used to skateboard in Freedom Plaza and the Park Police would show up and actually tackle kids to the ground and impound their skateboards. We all used to run, I always had a regular escape route.

      • Yeah, they also kick people out of Meridian Hill Park for playing croquet because it “damages the turf.” …or so I’ve heard.

      • Park Police, and they way they treat skateboarding kids, give police a bad name. But how do we address their abuses? I’m talking about when they run their horse through kids on Go Skateboarding Day, or throw kids’ jackets in the trash in winter, or give “moving violation” tickets to kids who don’t know better.

  • Glad to see they have their priorities straight in the wake of rising homicide rates.

    • This is Park Police, not MPD.

      • Good, maybe they could go patrol the Smithsonian metro area then.

      • As the recent shooting at Fairmont & Girard shows, there is plenty of crime happening around and in our parks.

      • MVT

        OK well how about the park on the south side of 5th and Mass. I think the point is that police presence might be better served in higher crime areas.

      • This just happened up the street, involving two different police forces, so yes, Park Police have better things to be doing: ““At approximately 3:30 a.m., the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) notified the George Washington University Police Department (GWPD) of an attempted carjacking in progress off-campus and that officers were chasing a suspect in the direction of GW’s campus. While still off-campus, MPD officers in pursuit fired in the direction of the fleeing suspects. While this incident was unfolding, a resident student called to alert GWPD of a suspicious person hiding near Munson Hall, located at 2212 I Street. GWPD relayed this information to MPD and in turn captured the suspect.”

    • One of many reasons I left. I don’t drink, but I don’t want to live in a society like yours.

  • palisades

    Wow. That seems unnecessary. On the other hand though, I always thought it was common sense to not drink out of containers in public, especially a national park. Solo cups are your friends.

    • Are solo cups not also containers? Drinking in public is illegal – regardless of whether you’re drinking out of a solo cup or a bud light can.

      • palisades

        Solo cups say you’re at least *trying* to conceal the alcohol a little. I know it’s still alcohol, but you gotta but all sorts of stupid to be walking around the mall with a can of beer

        • brookland_rez

          We drink beer at the skatepark in Shaw and never have a problem. That’s not patrolled by the Park Police, I don’t think.

    • a solo cup is still a container, what makes you think they weren’t drinking out of them?

      • Lack of probable cause?

        • A solo cup is pretty clear probable cause. I know from firsthand experience, there.

          People don’t use them for drinking many things other than alcohol.

          • Bite your tongue. I use them for water on occasion when I’m going somewhere and I’ve run out of clean water bottles or I don’t want to risk losing one. I’m sure more folks don’t use them for alcohol than do in the grand scheme of things.

            And police officer or not, if you’re anal retentive enough to ask someone on the street (who is not behaving erratically) to examine the contents of their Solo cup, I daresay you have bigger problems.

  • I notice these are Park Police, as opposed to MPD – maybe since it’s the ellipse the law is different? Either way, handcuffs seem excessive.

  • 4 attorneys who didn’t know that you can’t have open alcohol containers on the Ellipse? LOL. No sympathy here.

    • My sentiments exactly

    • justinbc

      “I strongly recommend you DO NOT drink beer on the Ellipse.”
      Or, you know, anywhere else where it’s illegal.

    • Even if they weren’t attorneys, I think it’s pretty common knowledge that you can’t drink in public like that. No sympathy whatsoever. Also, regarding OP’s comment about warning people – I’m sure park police have no obligation to warn people before arresting them.
      Seems heavy handed, but also seems pretty dumb on the part of those being arrested.

    • Agreed. Although, and I know this is park police, it seems like there are probably more pressing issues these cops should be pursuing.

    • I’m an attorney that has played softball on the Mall for the last eight years and only been told once to pour my beer into a Solo cup by a USPP officer. I have never seen anyone ticketed although I did once see beer confiscated by folks being too obvious about it. Hence why this is “news about no brews”.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      It has nothing to do with knowing it is illegal. Everyone knows that everyone is drinking on the mall when playing softball, kickball, bocce, etc. In fact, most of the people are there are probably more interested in drinking and socializing than playing any of the sports. If the Park Police are going to start enforcing the law after turning a blind eye to it for YEARS then maybe tickets is more appropriate or issuing warnings for a few weeks. I haven’t played sports on the mall in probably 7 or 8 years, and this was common back then. Its not like these 4 dudes were some outliers. They were the unfortunate ones to have a cup in their hand.

      • I’ve been playing ultimate on the mall for 14 years now and we’ve never once had or played a team where people are openingly drinking in the mall. So try your statement again…

        • ultimate is a relatively intense sport – not like you could drink while playing it. Softball is all about drinking. Even still, you must have had your eyes closed to not notice anyone drinking in 14 years.

        • You’ve been playing sports on the mall for 14 years and never saw anyone drinking??? Maybe you should look around a little. Don’t care what sport it is, it’s been an unwritten rule for decades. As long as you’re not obvious it’s no big deal.

          • There is no “unwritten rule” that you can drink on the mall. That people have gotten away with it doesn’t mean there’s an “unwritten rule.” In fact the written rule (aka “the law”) says that open containers in DC are punishable by up to 90 days in prison and/or a $500 fine. You can argue that it should be a warning… or a ticket. But the police have the authority to arrest you and imprison you based on DC code.

    • No sympathy for attorneys? At least they have jobs. Nobody seems interested in arrested the drugs users and dealers I see on Barracks Row every weekend. Oh wait- they don’t have jobs, so I guess we should feel sorry for them instead.

  • awesome use of police resources. pre-teens getting stabbed, people getting mugged, carjacked, shot, and murdered on metro – but good to see these dangerous criminals taken off the streets! ….. i do realize this is park police and not MPD, so completely different jurisdiction, but it just goes to show the ridiculousness that is DC and the disconnect of resources and priorities in governing agencies.

    • How does it go to show that? How many unsolved pre-teen stabbings and grand-theft-autos has the mall seen this year?

      • +1 While cuffing and stuffing these guys may be excessive, it doesn’t pull resources from homicide investigations. Sorry.

        • they’re park police. And I’ll bet if these were homeless guys drinking beer and playing softball, there’s be plenty of pearl clutching by these posters.

        • Park Police have VERY wide jurisdiction in DC, so they could be used to patrol many neighborhoods and areas around parks to make the safer.

      • you seem to be missing my point while inadvertently making my case. DC is one city made up of dozens (i don’t know the number, but can think of MPD, park police, amtrak police, metro police, capitol police, etc etc) agencies taking federal or multi-state & district) funds. The real crime issues are happening on a daily basis, and are much more of concern to citizens and tourists than beer drinking on the mall. i realize there is no direct correlation of a zero sum funding distribution between agencies – but, as i said, it shows the ridiculousness that is DC and the multi layered inefficiencies of big government.

        • DC has more MPD (standard police officers) per capita than any other major metropolitan city in the US, including all the biggies like NY, Chicago, Boston, LA, Miami, Atlanta, Houston etc. 30% more officers per capita to be specifc, and this is despite the fact that they don’t have to patrol any of the public transit (Metro Police jurisdiction), or Federal Properties (Capital Police, Fed Protective Services and NPS Jurisdiction)

          If MPD can’t bother to do its job with the excessive of assets it has at hand without needing the NPS to do their job for them, then we should get rid of the MPD all together and let some federal police agency take the reigns.

          Everyone who has every consumed an alcoholic beverage knows of open container laws on public property. The fact that these 4 are lawyers makes the knowledge even more certain.

          Everyone here would be yelling “for something to be done” if there were 4 bums on the mall openly drinking, so I find the “outrage” over this to be disingenuous.

          • No outrage here on my part – and I largely agree with you. I don’t disagree with the statement that these guys should be knowledgeable of the law, nor do i disagree that they should be held accountable (even if cuffing seems excessive). Again, my observation was to point out the absurdity of the DC political and governmental theater and the misuse of a multi-layered, highly funded (as you point out), yet often inefficient system. It mirrors so many of this city’s big government yet highly inefficient systems.

          • While I agree with much of what you say I really don’t think anyone would be “yelling for something to be done if there were 4 “bums” (not a great choice of words) on the mall openly drinking. It happens all over DC all day and all night and people really don’t seem to mind as far as I can tell.
            With regards to the illegal open containers law yes everyone knows it’s illegal but the mall softball and kickball games have always had one of those unwritten rules that you can drink but don’t be an A-hole about it. It’s been happening for years so why would these 4, regardless of being lawyers or not, think this had changed? The fireworks are a good example of that except that they even let you be an A-hole about it and don’t throw you in jail you, for the most part. I don’t think the crime fits the punishment here. That is way more embarrassment than is due.

          • There are at least 4 bums openly drinking in front of EPA on a daily basis and never any enforcement.

        • One of the ways that NYC cops sought to cut down on crime rates in the 1970s/1980s was to prosecute fare jumpers. Could they have devoted staff to do something else? Sure. But sending a signal that behavior that wasn’t allowed would finally be prosecuted set the tone that people couldn’t operate with impunity. As a number of posts have pointed out, open containers are illegal. Now if MPD took notice and started busting people for smoking pot and drinking beer in public then we’d be onto something.

          • yea… but it’s also been shown that part of the motivation and reason for that program’s success was that a large portion of those minor fare jumping arrests and detentions found open warrants for other crimes. all this really amounted to was effective (and by today’s standards inappropriate) racial profiling.

          • Exactly. If we just start arresting and taking to jail all jay-walkers in DC, violent crime will be ended in weeks. Thanks for your brilliant contribution!

    • justinbc

      “i do realize this is park police and not MPD, so completely different jurisdiction”
      The rest of your post doesn’t seem to indicate you do realize this.

  • Possession of an open container is an arrestable offense, even though the punishment is usually only a citation. Police use it frequently to conduct otherwise unreasonable and unlawful searches to find drugs and guns and such. It allows them to conduct searches incident to arrest…

  • These comments should be good ::popcorn.gif::

    • I totally support the Park Police… I come from a country where drinking in open public spaces is commonplace (including bumping into drunk pedestrians early AM as you head to work). I totally discourage this behavior.

  • No sympathy from me. Lawyers drinking on the ellipse? Seriously, if you really cannot wait to have a drink, don’t play softball, just go to happy hour. This seems in line with the new focus on curbing excessive drinking in the city.

  • This is something you learn when you live here, the easy way or the hard way. USPP officers are almost universally super pricks. I’ve witnessed far more egregious abuses of power by the USPP than any other police department in DC.

    • And I’m not saying this incident is an abuse of power. Just an observation.

      • There’s a park police officer who parks his/her personal vehicle next to the station in Rock Creek Park, the one on Beach Drive near Military Road. The car is parked outside the station all the time.

        It has the Virginia vanity “Don’t Tread On Me” Gadsden flag plates, and it reads “IH8 L1BS” Tells you everything you need to know about park police.

        • Ha! That reminds me of the Park Police officers I met who could not understand the concept of Car2Go.

        • No it doesn’t – ’cause I can’t figure out what L1BS is suppose to mean. . .

        • MT, if he hates libraries I think that warrants an even bigger condemnation.

        • With that silly license plate, he probably shouldn’t be sucking at the government’s teat and acting as a representative of the State’s “monopoly of violence.”
          Jeez, talk about cognitive dissonance. He’s needs therapy.

    • Anecdotally, I agree. It seems that they jump on any chance they get to play “real” cop. I mean no offense to the work they do, which I think is important, but in my experience, they really jump on any opportunity to flex their muscles.

    • dittoed.

    • There used to be a park police cop at Meridian Hill Park who was an insecure prick to an extreme degree, constantly looking to give people shit about drinking wine and not having their dogs on leashes. There are diplomatic ways to handle it and undiplomatic ways to handle it and he went with the former. I was so tempted to ask him how often he got beaten up in school as he was obviously overcompensating for something.

      • One could argue that the people drinking wine and letting their dogs run off leash are jerks for breaking the law in the first place. Are there diplomatic ways to get someone to stop openly breaking the law? Sure. Would it be nice to do the solid and tell them to stop drinking in public? Yeah. However, I bet the person who got a ticket will be more apt to follow the rules compared to someone who was politely asked to stop breaking them.

    • In my experience, they’ve been really lenient (didn’t want to do all the paper work associated with possession of weed, for example, so just let my friend go). Maybe I’ve just interacted with nicer Park Police officers than you have, but I figure I would have run into a few bad apples in 20+ years.

      My MPD experiences, on the other hand, have been quite a mixed bag.

    • Yep — me too ….

  • …and the kill-joys strike again…

  • This seems way overboard – I get that there are laws governing open containers/consumption on park grounds, fine. But handcuffing and getting put in the back of a cop car seems like abuse of power when the response should just be a citation. Come on.

  • Yikes. Can you get disbarred for that?

    • ummm. no.

    • Speaking as an attorney, probably not. Criminal charges CAN lead to disbarment, but they need to reflect poorly on the profession. That goes, in part, to the seriousness of the offense. Something like this where I imagine they’ll just end up being released shortly and paying a fine wouldn’t rise to that level. Depending on the jurisdiction they’re a member of, however, they’ll have to report it to their bar association.

      • *convictions, not charges, sorry. obviously there’s that whole innocence until proven guilty thing. 🙂

    • No. You’d be surprised what doesn’t get attorneys disbarred.

      • to be fair, this is hardly something that falls in the category of “things that should be disbarment offenses but aren’t”

  • Open container is almost certainly a summary violation (i.e. a written ticket).

    Even if they were underage (which they did not appear to be), that’s not an arresting offense.

    For them to be placed in custody, I feel like they must have done something else…maybe to warrant “drunk in public” or maybe even “interfering with a police investigation” (i.e. if they dumped out their beers).

    • I am telling you, POCA is an arrestable offense in DC. LOOK IT UP.

      • This isn’t in DC. This is NPS land. Look it up!

        • You don’t magically leave DC when you set foot on NPS land. It’s true that you also become subject to federal law when you do so, but DC law is still enforceable as well unless preempted in some way — which it probably wouldn’t be in this case.

          • Na, you just made that up. Same law, NPS can’t go to harsher DC punishment.

          • USPP have the authority to enforce DC law. DC law makes POCA an arrestable offense even though it is a misdemeanor. As I said earlier, police often use this to conduct a “Search incident to arrest” to search for things they otherwise would not have probable cause to search for and get people on felony charges.

          • Hypothetically speaking, if the penalty for having an open container in DC was 1 year in prison and the federal law banning open containers in national parks called for up to 6 months, the park police most certainly could arrest you and the US attorney could prosecute you under the DC statute. You’re still in DC.

          • This guy is right. POCA is an arrestable offense and happens a lot, usually not to rich white people. USPP are allowed to make arrests for DC Code, which are applied on the Mall.

        • I have lived in Washington, D.C. all my 59 years NPS Land IS a part of D.C. and Federal
          law governs the land. In fact NPS can stop you anywhere in the boundaries of DC and apply
          federal and or district charges. This is nothing new its always been this way.

    • My guess is that when they got busted they didn’t respond well or politely. Which probably ticked off the officers even more which resulted in the cuffs.

      • Good theory.

        • I was going to say this as well. A similar thing happened to a friend of a friend a few years ago, and they spent a night in jail. Everyone else walked off the field, but this gentleman decided to pick a fight with the MPD officers.

    • Years ago a friend and I were arrested for stepping off our front porch with our beers– seriously, just to stand on the sidewalk to check out a new motorcycle parked at the curb. An undercover car pulled up and cops jumped out in bulletproof vests, pushed us against the house’s retaining wall, cuffed us, removed our shoelaces and belts, and called for a cruiser to take us to the station. It was one of the most absurd and embarrassing episodes of my life. The cop at the station was incredibly embarrassed that this had happened and mentioned something about “damn quotas”. We spent four hours in a jail cell before being released after signing an admission of guilt (under threat of being held until Monday to be arraigned in court). So no, not just a ticket.

  • If it were four “old heads” from in front of the corner store, how would your level of offense stack up?

    And why on earth should your level of offense be contingent on having received a warning? Who doesn’t know that drinking from open containers in public is illegal??

    • Scrillin

      Those “old heads” wouldn’t be getting arrested in the first place.

    • Two things:
      One, the chance that these guys were completely wasted is next to nil. They could hit, throw, and run still. Where I take the most offense is the “old heads” who get so drunk in public that they proceed to pass out in public, stagger down the middle of the street, and openly urinate and defecate in public. I once walked by a passed out man who had done a good #1 and #2 all over the sidewalk and himself (unclear if it hit him coming out or when he passed out in it), and was resting peacefully with his pants around his ankles. Oh, and the catcalling and threats of physical violence. That’s offensive, not the act of drinking itself. I would be perfectly happy if we struck POCA laws and instead aggressively enforced public intoxication (threat to self or others), indecent exposure, and harassment laws. I would also be perfectly happy with rehab in lieu of fines/jail time, but with actual enforcement.
      Two, it is my experience that if MPD does *anything* about the “old head” drunks, it’s call them an ambulance and they end up right back where they were the next day. OTOH, I have been threatened with arrest for consuming alcohol in a perfectly legal way (I was sitting on the INSIDE of the wall that surrounded my front yard, and the cop was telling me that he could arrest me because my derriere was a few inches over the edge and, therefore, I was in POCA), and have friends who have been fined for very similar or even less egregious violations than Anon x2 above (e.g., putting a single foot on the sidewalk). Why the disparate enforcement? We can and will pay the fine on the threat of our jobs and credit ratings. Go ahead, fine the old drunk. Do you *honestly* think he’s going to pay it? Nope. Better to go after the yuppie who will, even if the old drunk is blatantly breaking several laws and causing discomfort to many around him, while the yuppie is just quietly sipping a beer when they stepped on the sidewalk to, I dunno, something no one would ever do, like admire their neighbor’s new bike. All about that revenue, baby.

  • We had a similar story recently, but it wasn’t nearly as bad. Thankfully we just got off with a citation.

    The context that’s missing here is that although this is something that has been illegal forever, it has never been enforced. In ten years of league softball on the Mall, I have never heard of anyone even getting a ticket. We’ve actually had park police joke with us before about open containers. I wonder what suddenly made this a high priority? Those games can get heated- maybe there was a fight between teams and booze was involved?

    • I played in a softball league from 2004-2008. While we never got a citation we did get a few warnings each summer and had a few other teams in our league get citations. This really isn’t anything new. My guess is the guys on this team got all “I’m a lawyer” when they were warned last week and copped an attitude this time around which resulted in the cuffs.

      • Anyone stupid enough to pull “I’m a lawyer” on a cop had better be ready to hear “Yeah, well, I’m a cop and you can tell it all to the judge. You also have the right to remain silent….”

    • Frequent baller in the early aughts. Lots of warnings, some poking through coolers and rare confiscation or forced to pour out. Key was always to be discreet and not obviously intoxicated. We still put away drinks when we saw them coming so they had little justification to poke around more.

  • With the caveat that I completely recognize the difference between MPD and capitol police, I think it’s completely BS that I have to put up with people openly selling drugs and frequent gunshots near my house, but can’t peacefully have a beer on the mall.

  • There is probably more to this story than just open beer containers. A few weekends ago while walking in the same area we witnessed one softball player yelling at a pair of women who unknowingly walked into their game. While the women were walking away, the player marched over to them in a threatening manner screaming something along the lines of “don’t make me say it again…” It did not appear the player was completely sober and the grass wasn’t clearly marked to let other know they were walking into their “field.”

    • Brings to mind the douchebags who had set up their xtreme frisbee game in the middle of the kite festival. They got loudly indignant when some kids ran through their game with kites. The elementary school kids had more grace than the 20 somethings, who acted like spoiled brats.

  • justinbc

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. They put HANDCUFFS on people who broke the law?! I am so against that too!

    • But its not one of those really bad laws. If they did something that directly affected me, different story!

    • so, you think handcuffs are appropriate for people who break any law? Public drinking? You’re obviously on board with that one. How about littering? Cuff em! Speeding 5 MPH over the limit? Yep, put the bracelets on. What about jaywalking? Cuffs for all!
      once again, you’ve shown a complete inability to understand any nuance to a situation.

      • Just so you’re aware, those lesser crimes that are summonses are all “summons in lieu of an arrest” offenses. Meaning, you can totally get arrested but it’s usually much easier to just write you a ticket and keep the jails less packed. But I have on occasion arrested people for summonsable offenses when they were total assholes or douches.

      • justinbc

        Oh I’m quite capable of understanding privileged people whining when laws they’re used to breaking are actually applied to them, and I find it rather hilarious each time.

      • Most police departments have a policy that if an arrest is made an and the arrestee is being brought into the police station for processing then they will be handcuffed. There’s no discretion permitted on the officer’s part.

  • I swear the park police are just the worst. They’re DC’s 6th string police force. They drive around the city running red lights at will and they let their horses crap all over the mall. A few years ago they got all upset about pedi-cabs and ended up tazing a driver as he was dropping off a family. I pedi-cabbed that summer and my defining memory was being ordered to not post up near the air and space museum because I was obstructing pedestrians …. by a park police officer parked at the top of a handicap ramp. Never has a bigger group of a-holes let less authority go to their heads than the freaking park police.

    • + 100

    • Lived with pedicabbers for a few years. Can confirm USPP tactics are overly aggressive. Roomie thrown off his pedicab by USPP and charged with assaulting an officer. Surprised they didn’t drive the whole pedicab scene out of town.

  • Im for one glad they busted law breakers. I tired of the over-privileged class in this city breaking what they believe are minor laws (food on the metro, unleashed dogs, public drinking). The law is for everyone. I get there are stabbings and shootings but non-white get arrested everyday for public drinking in the NE and SE. You and me and everyone, are not above the law.

    • Based on the impunity with which I see people drinking in public across the city, especially in low income areas, “people” might get arrested every day for it – but not many people do.

      Personally, I dont think anyone should be arrested for it. If you want to make it illegal, fine – but use it for PC because you think something else is going on. Who gives a shit if someone is drinking in public or in private? Peeing, littering, fighting, harassing… these things are all crimes on their own. Its a legal substance that pearl clutchers of various stripes have succeeded in getting absurd laws governing its use.

      Combined with the fact that, much like outside Big Ben’s liquor, there is a concerted effort by law enforcement to look the other way on the mall, it seems absurd to start arbitrarily enforcing a law when no other laws are getting broken.

      Now, maybe it wasnt arbitrary. They were warned. Maybe they didnt take to the warning well. maybe they were breaking other laws. Maybe they were total jerks and the cops were dropping the hammer. If thats the case, I’m glad they got busted because their hijinks can ruin it for the ones who are being civilized but enjoying a couple beers on a nice day. If, there was no other reason to raise the cops ire and they really did decide to start arbitrarily enforcing a law that hasnt been enforced for years on a bunch of random people – well thats just fucked up.

      I have no idea what the odds of the ball players “asking for it” vs the cops just being dicks. I have a feeling its somewhere in the middle, and in that situation, advantage goes to the cops. Dont be dicks to cops… especially when you’re breaking the law and relying on their kindness not to get arrested.

    • Maybe they could start with those privileged Marylanders who park illegally every Sunday. Or the ones who buy drugs in my neighborhood.

    • unleashed dogs are the worst (not even kidding).

      • Definitely agree. In fact, it’s been a while since there’s been a nice 150 comment thread about how owners who walk their dogs off leash are basically evil embodied.

  • This is sort of like what Bunny Colvin was promising to do eventually, right? Get everyone comfortable that there wouldnt be enforcement and then one day swoop and bust everyone to make the stats jump.

    • Hey, if we’re stupid enough to fall for it….
      (And by “we”, I mean other people. I’m not that stupid.)

    • Well if you leave out the importance of the confined georgraphy of Hamsterdam and how it led to lower violent crime in other parts of his territory, then yeah sort of. But that was basically his main intention and I don’t really see it’s relevance here. It’s not like the Park Police said you can drink at the tidal basin but don’t even think about it up here at the ellipse!

      • Wow. Way to jump at any opportunity to correct someone. See. See! You’re wrong… Your analogy didn’t completely fit that completely made up fantasy on TV… Yeah ok.

        • I’m a big fan of the show and saw your analogy as too much of a stretch.

          • Except that its not. There’s been a pretty well-known practice of enforcement discretion from the park police when it comes to open containers on the mall during softball. Just because the stated intent isnt to reduce crime on drug corners, doesnt mean its not about preserving police resources.

            Go nitpick somewhere else. And, if you are going to nitpick, correct my grammar like all the good PopVille Pedants.

  • I don’t know what people are talking about when they say this is not an arrestable offense. It is, and people get arrested for it all the time, it’s just that the people getting arrested are usually drunks and drug users and repeat offenders at bus stops. You can get arrested for having an opened bottle of wine in the back seat of your car that you threw back there on the way to a party. You can also get arrested for drinking or possessing alcohol in the common area of an apartment building, for instance the lobby. Taken to the extreme, if you live in a house that has been popped up and turned into two condos, drinking or possessing alcohol in the shared yard in front of the house would be an offense. Also, when a custodial arrest takes place, you get placed in handcuffs, no exceptions. There isn’t a “nice guy” or “well-behaved suspect” exception.

    • Perhaps we are misunderstanding each other. It doesn’t have to be an arrestable offense. The officers have the option of writing a ticket (I know, I’ve gotten one).

      Therefore being caught with an open container =/= being arrested, unless the cops want to arrest you. They can still do their jobs and write you up.

      Which led me to believe here was something else going on here…

  • “Offends me on so many levels”? Please.

  • This is what happens when wanna be fake cops want to pretend like they’re real cops

  • I’ve been playing softball/drinking beer on the mall for several years now and this is really disheartening to read. In 5 years I’ve never seen anyone acting drunk or inappropriate during or after softball games. Almost every team brings a cooler and drinks out of solo cups. I really hope police don’t start harassing teams that are at least using solo cups.

    Police have never harassed our team about drinking since I’ve been playing, but I have noticed that in the last year or so that government agencies that field teams have stopped drinking during games. Maybe they’ve been tipped off about crackdowns or have been banned from doing so by hire-ups.

    Can’t believe they are arresting people for this. Fucking fascists. If they’re being disorderly it’s one thing, but just for drinking? That does not warrant an arrest in my opinion.

    • So they shouldn’t arrest the guys drinking in front of the bodega as long as they’re “at least” using Solo cups? Would paper bags be okay? Drinking in public is illegal; full stop. Why is enforcing the law fascist? And how do you know they weren’t being disorderly? Or that general disorderliness among the teams has been on the upswing and they need to crack down? I’ve rarely been to the Mall for softball, and I’ve still seen some drunk and bros who, in addition to being disorderly, rarely seek out a port-a-potty when nature calls. (Jeez I’m sick of men pissing wherever they feel like it.)

    • Though I don’t agree with this law, it is, in fact, illegal, to drink in public spaces. Not drink *and* be disorderly, not drink *except* from solo cups, just plain having an open alcoholic drink. There is plenty of police misconduct out there but simply enforcing the law and not choosing to be lenient (citation/warning vs handcuffs) is neither harassment nor fascism.

      • Fine, then roll up Georgia Ave on any given day and arrest hundred of people along the length of NW DC. The a-holes are causing actual quality of life problems; the softball players are not.

        • If you are regularly loitering and drinking in front of a bodega (or god forbid a 7-11!) on Georgia Ave, I’m going to bet that you have been arrested before. Multiple times.

  • As a member of a softball team that regularly plays on the Ellipse, I’m now suggesting my team start playing somewhere open containers and public intoxication are not only tolerated but almost required – in front of Eddie Leonard on Georgia Avenue.

  • Blithe

    If, as a community, we want to legislate Quality of Life infractions, then we should want to see them equitably enforced. Since that often is not the way things work, I’d be interested in learning more about what preceded these arrests.

    • As a community, has anyone actually suggested that a police force start cracking down on drinking in public? Its legal in most of the rest of the world. Its just alcohol… its really not a big deal.

      • This is neither a support or disagreement, but I’ve lived in Germany, where there are no open container laws, and you see the results in the litter, not the behavior. Broken bottles and glass everywhere. Open container laws may be annoying, but they do curb littering. Maybe the city should go towards a New Orleans “to-go cup” kind of mentality.

        • To be fair, there’s litter in every city that doesnt dedicate considerable effort made by the authorities to clean it up. DC does great, between the NPS, the Main Streets programs, etc. But, outside those zones there can be a lot of litter – oftentimes its fast food shit. But, littering is illegal too…

          Many cities are quite clean and allow drinking in public. Some cities just do a better job picking up the trash.

        • I don’t see how litter in DC could be much worse (at least in my neighborhood in NW).

        • Where in Germany did you see frequent trash of that nature? I’ve traveled extensively in Germany over a 14 year period and in my experience the whole damn country is cleaner than DC and most other major American cities. Rome, now, that is a dirty city.

          • Agree. That comment about littering in Germany is fantasy. People turn in their empties for cash back and the place is very c!ean compared to the US.

      • Blithe

        That may, in part, depend on how you define “community”. I’ve read hundreds of posts in PoPville by people that feel that public intoxication and what they view as “loitering” should be “cracked down on”. I would also argue that “just alcohol” is a factor in a multitude of problems, and is, indeed, a big deal — but that’s a complicated issue that’s beyond the scope of this post.

  • On a related note, I also recommend people who are definitely not lawyers TO NOT drink beer on the sidewalk in front of my house.

  • This is why there should be no open container laws. Many other countries and even cities in the US don’t have these type of laws in place. This is America and there should be no reason why you can’t have a drink on public property.

    • then do not complain about people drinking outside the corner stores. because drinking and being unruly on the street corner is the same as drinking and being unruly on the eclipse.

      • I think the distinction here is that in those other places where open containers are allowed, being disorderly or unruly, littering, public urination, are still illegal. But drinking a glass of wine while sitting quietly on a bench eating your lunch? Why should that be an arrestable offence? I suspect it may have practical value though. Disorderly conduct depends on an officer’s discretion and can be misinterpreted in ways that possessing an open beer cannot.

  • When I was busted with my solo cup during a softball game, I just received a $25 ticket. Everyone else who saw the cops coming and put their cups on the ground were let go with a warning. Anyone think the lawyers were smarting off?

    • They probably acted like half the people in this thread who swear up and down that this isn’t an arrestable offense.

    • Yeah that was my first thought. And to be honest, if they are lawyers there is a decent chance that the charges will get dropped. And they may even litigate against the gov’t for something procedural mishandled. Or not, who knows.

  • My softball team was explicitly told by park police that as long as drinks were in a solo cup or not clearly open container they wouldn’t bother us. I wonder how obvious the drinking here was.

  • I think the moral of this story is “don’t drink beer on the mall…drink liquor instead”

  • Um, they sell beer on the mall. SELL BEER. On the mall.

    • No one seems to know this. I got several at the Stewart/Colbert thing and people looked at me like I’d discovered a gold mine.

    • Where do they sell beer on the Mall? They sell it in some museum cafes and for regulated events with a perimeter like Jazz in the Garden, but you can’t just buy a beer and walk around the Mall with it. Not sure where this is coming from.

      • toofwis

        The “snack shack” or whatever by the duck pond definitely sells beer.

      • All the concession stands on the Mall sell beer (by the carousel, for instance), though you are required to keep it within the designated dining area. Trust me: if there is beer to be found, alcoholics will find it.

  • Does anyone know for a fact whether the people who were arrested tried to make it less obvious (i.e., using solo cups and hiding the cans out of view?)

  • So they were warned the first time and were not capable of listening or at least taking steps not to get busted the following week? Not the brightest bunch.

  • White privilege is coming to an end?!

    Just food for thought: black and latinos are killed for far less and nobody says anything.

  • After two consecutive Monday night softball games concluding with park police confiscating our beer, they bid us farewell and said, “see you next week.”

  • It doesn’t seem to me that drinking outside should be illegal. Behaving in ways that are otherwise criminal should be. Having had a drink doesn’t bring that behavior necessarily.

    I’ve always seen open container laws as being against the poor. You can go into a bar where you pay more to drink, and go outside and be drunk, and engage in criminal behavior. You can also have a drink outside – at a softball game, on the sidewalk in front of your house, at your picnic in the park etc., and not be drunk, not be behaving criminally, and not be bothering anybody.

  • These doofuses were drinking beer straight out of the can in plain view of cops. If you’re that dumb, you have nothing to complain about if you are arrested.

    • Are you sure about that? That’s all I’ve been trying to figure out…how blatant were they?

  • These men are heroes. It’s a stupid law.

  • Ignorance of the law is no defense. You didn’t even deserve a warning. Open container laws are usually enforced against the poor (and often the homeless). This time they enforced the law against some people who can actually afford a competent legal defense. Hooray for equal application of the law

    • How about this nonsense law is repealed and not enforced against anyone, regardless of class or race?

  • Must not be very intelligent attorneys as everyone knows you can’t drink on the Mall…and having broken a well-known and common sense law in the past and gotten away with it isn’t justification for boohooing when it’s enforced.

  • It’s too bad the Park Police don’t have a similar zero tolerance policy for the homeless and other d of class using pocket parks across Capitol Hill for drinking, smoking weed, strewing take out containers and other trash, defecating and urinating and other forms of Indecdnt exposure (including the perv who frequents Stanton Park to masturbate while watching children play). There’s little doubt that this population is tied to a large percentage of car break-ins and other thefts near Seward Square and Folger Park. You guys are doing a heck of a job by cuffing and taking a few attorneys into custody for booking. I’m sure there’s more to the story, and someone likely got mouthy, but the priorities are really messed up.

    • I will guess that 90% of those folks that you are describing above have been arrested before. Multiple times.

  • I heard this was Harvards alumni team which is even more hilarious. 10,000 men and women of Harvard-3! So hilarious

  • Boooooooooooooooo. This is so not worthy if police paperwork. These cops were bored

  • DC Code § 25-1001. Drinking of alcoholic beverage in public place prohibited; intoxication prohibited.
    (a) Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of this section, no person in the District shall drink an alcoholic beverage or possess in an open container an alcoholic beverage in or upon any of the following places:
    (1) A street, alley, park, sidewalk, or parking area;
    (2) A vehicle in or upon any street, alley, park, or parking area;
    (3) A premises not licensed under this title where food or nonalcoholic beverages are sold or entertainment is provided for compensation;
    (4) Any place to which the public is invited and for which a license to sell alcoholic beverages has not been issued under this title;
    (5) Any place to which the public is invited for which a license to sell alcoholic beverages has been issued under this title at a time when the sale of alcoholic beverages on the premises is prohibited by this title or by the regulations promulgated under this title; or
    (6) Any place licensed under a club license at a time when the consumption of the alcoholic beverages on the premises is prohibited by this title or by regulations promulgated under this title.
    (b) Subsection (a)(1) of this section shall not apply if drinking or possession of an alcoholic beverage occurs:
    (1) In or on a structure which projects upon the parking, and which is an integral, structural part, of a private residence, such as a front porch, terrace, bay window, or vault; and
    (2) By, or with the permission of, the owner or resident.
    (c) No person, whether in or on public or private property, shall be intoxicated and endanger the safety of himself, herself, or any other person or property.
    (d) Any person violating the provisions of subsection (a) or (c) of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than the amount set forth in [§ 22-3571.01], or imprisoned for not more than 60 days, or both.
    (e) Any person in the District who is intoxicated in public and who is not conducting himself or herself in such manner as to endanger the safety of himself, herself, or of any other person or of property shall be treated in accordance with Chapter 6 of Title 24.
    HISTORY: (Jan. 24, 1934, 48 Stat. 333, ch. 4, § 28; Aug. 27, 1935, 49 Stat. 901, 902, ch. 756, §§ 13, 14; June 29, 1953, 67 Stat. 104, ch. 159, § 404(h); Aug. 3, 1968, 82 Stat. 618, Pub. L. 90-452, § 2(a); Sept. 29, 1982, D.C. Law 4-157, § 13, 29 DCR 3617; Dec. 3, 1985, D.C. Law 6-64, § 2, 32 DCR 5970; Mar. 26, 1999, D.C. Law 12-206, § 2(b), 45 DCR 8430; May 3, 2001, D.C. Law 13-298, § 101, 48 DCR 2959; June 11, 2013, D.C. Law 19-317, § 284(d), 60 DCR 2064; July 17, 2014, D.C. Law 20-126, § 406, 61 DCR 3482.)

  • Please look up and read the law. They are enforce it like they are required to. Some violations of the law sound worse then other like running a red light vs shooting a person with a gun. How many of the drinkers got into cars and drove while drunk after the game? Running a red light, DWI, and shooting a person all can result in someone’s death. Why would you not want the police, who are paid by our taxes, not to do their job???

    If you break the law, you break the law.

    DC Code § 25-1001. Drinking of alcoholic beverage in public place prohibited; intoxication prohibited.

  • Open container laws are asinine and don’t exist in most if not all other Western countries. Just get rid of them.

  • No fun or happiness allowed! We need to find something to do!

  • +1 to the basic “they didn’t deserve to be arrested for this” and “arrest record will follow you for the rest of your life”

    My advice to the 4 guys (having seen people get hired after doing things like being arrested for being present at a peaceful gay rights march):
    – Save a copy of this PoP post. The guy had a newspaper article where he was quoted to show my work and he got hired for an *extremely* competitive position.
    – Don’t have your arrest record sealed if the fact of the arrest stays on your record and only the subject matter of the arrest gets sealed. For most people “arrested for open container at a sporting event” (with nothing else charged) is self explanatory that an arrest was unnecessary

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