John Tudor was accused of obstructing traffic and creating a hazard
A 23-year-old Ridgefield man was arrested Sunday afternoon for disorderly conduct after he was accused of obstructing traffic and creating a hazard while protesting near the 5600 block of Pioneer Street. John Tudor was arrested and cited before being released to his father.
Tudor posted videos of the incident on his personal Facebook page, which included audio of him explaining that he had been at the location for multiple days protesting in support of racial equality and police reform. He could be heard telling Ridgefield Police Officer Jason Ferriss that he had been previously told he could stand in the spot on the pedestrian crossing between lanes of traffic entering and leaving a nearby roundabout.
Tudor was asked by Ferris to move to the sidewalk for his own safety and that of passing motorists. Tudor refused and can be seen in the video on his own Facebook page walking back and forth across the street in the pedestrian crossing area.
“This is the result of bullying and oppression,’’ Tudor wrote on his Facebook page, referring to his arrest. “This is the result of PEACEFUL PROTEST. I was arrested for exercising my first amendment rights.’’
Ridgefield Police Chief John Brooks posted his department’s version of the incident on the City of Ridgefield Facebook page and included a copy of the police report.
“There has been some incomplete information shared about an encounter between the Ridgefield Police and a resident yesterday afternoon,’’ Brooks wrote. “It is important to me that the public have access to all the information so we are communicating from the same set of facts. The mission of the Ridgefield Police Department is to keep everyone in our community safe. That is what a police officer was attempting to do yesterday.
“Yesterday afternoon the Ridgefield Police drove through the area of the 56th Street roundabout and saw citizens out exercising their first amendment rights,’’ Brooks wrote. “I have been out there several times and have told the participants we are glad they have ‘found their voice’ and support what they are doing. Yesterday one of our officers encountered a problem when a small group of individuals were standing in the middle of the road on the pedestrian island. An officer explained the danger for both them and vehicles suddenly braking and asked the group to move over to the sidewalk so they could be seen AND be safe. The group complied and moved to the sidewalk. To assure there is no confusion in the future about where it is safe to walk in the area, the City will provide clear and reasonable guidelines.
“A short time later, one participant, John Tudor, was seen walking back and forth across the street in a manner that caused cars to have to suddenly stop,’’ Brooks wrote. “Mr. Tudor was again asked by the officer to stay on the sidewalk for both his safety and for the safety of the drivers and their passengers. Mr. Tudor’s father was at the scene and also encouraged his son to stay to the sidewalk. All other participants had moved to the sidewalk except Mr. Tudor who insisted he had a right to continue his behavior. Mr. Tudor was given a citation to appear in court for disorderly conduct, and was released to go home with his father. This action had nothing to do with inhibiting Mr. Tudor’s freedom of speech but was a last resort based on his unwillingness to stop obstructing vehicle traffic and creating a dangerous situation.’’
Several citizens posted comments on Chief Brooks’ post, confirming Tudor’s actions.
“He stepped right out in front of us. It was scary and I was worried for his safety! Thank you for the update!’’ said Kelly Graybill Bondegard.
“I’m glad he was cited, I happened to be one of the cars that almost hit him as he walked right out in front of my car!’’ wrote Cindy Denton.
“Thank you RPD! I went through that area at the time of this incident – coming and going – and observed these exact actions by the young man. He was quite agitated and definitely impeding traffic and endangering himself and drivers,’’ wrote Judy Hinz.
Jill Karmyt Kjer posted a question: “Chief Brooks, in the video posted online and in this report, your sergeant states that it is a distraction for drivers to ‘wave or show support’ and that distraction is then blamed on the protester. So will all BLM protesters now be arrested because cars are honking and waving in support of their message?’’
A post from the city of Ridgefield indicated Chief Brooks didn’t monitor comments on the Facebook page and an email address was given to ask the chief the question directly.
In his original post, Brooks added, “I want to leave you with a couple of thoughts: First, the Ridgefield Police Department supports people’s right to free speech. We are in an incredibly pivotal time and people have a right and a responsibility to participate in what happens next. Secondly, the Ridgefield Police have a responsibility to keep the community safe, to include; vehicle traffic, pedestrians, people at work and at home. They all depend on their police department to be looking out for their interests. For us, not to act when we see an unsafe situation, is tantamount to dereliction of duty. In this case, Mr. Tudor ignored warnings by both the police and his own parents regarding his actions. While he received a citation for the crime of Disorderly Conduct, he was not taken to jail and was released to his parents shortly thereafter.
“Lastly, too often we reach conclusions without having enough information. The Ridgefield Police Department wants to be transparent in what we do so I have posted the police report from this incident to the city’s website. Moreover, City leaders want to continue the conversation both with John Tudor (which I will personally be doing), and the entire community. If we talk and listen, my sense is we both want the same things for our community. I will be looking for an opportunity to do so soon.’’
Tudor has established a GoFundMe fundraiser on his Facebook page to raise funds for his criminal defense.