A Florida police officer was placed on administrative leave after he refused to take off the Guy Fawkes mask he wore at an anti-Obamacare protest.
Russia Today reported that Ericson Harrell, 39, was wearing the mask with a black cape and an inverted American flag when he was approached by police officers in Plantation, Fla. He said he was “protesting Obamacare” and wouldn’t comply with their requests that he reveal his identity, only repeating, “I’m a cop, I’m a cop.”
The police report notes that he “was asked several times to remove his mask and produce some form of identification or tell us his name.” When he refused each time and an officer found a .40 caliber pistol in his waistband, he was taken into custody.
Harrell was charged with obstruction of justice and with wearing a hood or mask on the street. He was not jailed, but was given a court date and put on leave at the police department.
The Guy Fawkes mask from the comic book and movie “V for Vendetta” has become the symbol for the hacktivist collective Anonymous. Raw Story reported that Harrell told police “his anonymity was his cause, thus the mask.”
The seemingly bizarre rule that prohibits wearing a hood or mask in public “as to conceal identity of the wearer” apparently originated in an attempt to criminalize the Ku Klux Klan without violating the Constitution.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that Harrell was named Officer of the Month in August 2007 for stopping a burglary. He was lauded for his his “keen sense of observation and immediate actions” after he noticed a turned-over trash can on a street corner, leading him to the broken front window of a business. He found the suspect hiding in a trash bin.