Lowering the Bar - “It happens from time to time,” said Vern Malloch, an assistant police chief in Portland, Maine. Not the arresting of trees, that is, but rather the doing of “bizarre things” by people who “want to get arrested.” Often this is because the person is trying to make a dramatic statement in the course of a protest, but that wasn’t the motivation here.
It’s not clear what the motivation was, but it wasn’t that.
As the Portland Press-Herald reported,
Tree was arrested on Monday afternoon for obstructing a public way,
which it was doing by shuffling v e r y s l o w l y across the
crosswalks of a busy intersection. No signs or flyers were posted on
Tree, nor did it engage in any obviously expressive conduct. It
To their credit, the officers who responded did not immediately
riddle the offender with bullets, as is too often the case with American
law enforcement. Maybe it was because this suspect made no sudden
moves, or maybe because it was green, but either way, these Portland
officers remained calm and just escorted Tree v e r y s l o w l y out
of the intersection. They then let him off with a warning, telling Tree
it was “free to go” as long as it stayed out of the road. But Tree
then wandered back into the intersection, which prompted the arrest.
Officers then partially defoliated Tree—
Woodworth later told the BBC—which
I congratulate on its excellent coverage of this important U.S.
story—that he was a performance artist, although that may have been the
BBC’s interpretation of his comments. It quotes him as saying that “I
just had this very clear vision as I was meditating one day,”
presumably a vision of himself shuffling v e r y s l o w l y across an
intersection while covered in branches, and that he wanted to surprise
people and “make them rethink their expectations.”