Man Tasered in Columbia alley

Taser use called unnecessary by witnesses
Monday, August 3, 2009 | 2:49 a.m. CDT; updated 4:56 p.m. CDT, Monday, August 3, 2009

This story has been revised to add a statement from Columbia police Public Information Officer Jessie Haden, who answered some questions Monday morning about the incident.


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COLUMBIA — A Columbia man was Tasered and pepper sprayed by Columbia police while being arrested on suspicion of public urination and resisting arrest Saturday night.

Carl Alan Giles, 27, was arrested at 10:30 p.m. Saturday in an alley behind Cafe Berlin at 21 N. Providence Road. According to witnesses, most of whom are friends or family of Giles, an officer used pepper spray on Giles after he pulled his wrist from a police officer’s grasp. While Giles was restrained on the ground, three additional officers arrived at the scene, and a fifth officer arrived and shot Giles in the back with a Taser, activating the device twice, witnesses said.

Giles was taken to University Hospital after the incident and was released after less than an hour into police custody. He was freed on $1,000 bond before 1 a.m. Sunday. Giles said he is not ready to talk to the media about the incident and referred questions to Kylar Broadus, a Columbia lawyer. Giles said he has not hired Broadus but that the lawyer has been providing him with legal advice since friends called him shortly after Giles' arrest.

Broadus said early Sunday morning that the incident will be a “longer journey than just this evening. ... The Taser was unnecessarily used," he said.

On Monday, Columbia Police Department spokeswoman Officer Jessie Haden said the officer who made contact with Giles had been driving through the alley and observed Giles urinating. When the officer made contact with him, the officer said Giles denied that he had been urinating in the alley.

Haden said the officer then obtained Giles' identification to check for any possible warrants and to issue a citation. At that point, she said, Giles became uncooperative and began to "mimic" the officer, repeating the officer's words back to the officer as they were said.

When the officer went to check Giles' identification, Haden said, Giles approached the patrol car. After ordering Giles to stand back, the officer decided to put Giles in handcuffs as a "safety concern." Haden said the officer had one handcuff on Giles, and said the officer said that Giles began to try and fight the officer.

Haden said the officer used pepper spray on Giles but that he continued to resist. When additional units arrived after the officer made an emergency call, the Taser was used on Giles. Haden said the incident was under investigation.

Haden's statement was the first from police since the Saturday night incident, though attempts were made throughout Sunday to obtain comments from Deputy Chief Tom Dresner and Chief Ken Burton.

According to the Police Executive Research Forum's Taser policy guidelines, which were adopted by Columbia police, Tasers should not be used against a passive subject. Another guideline states that a subject who has been Tasered should receive medical evaluation.

Cafe Berlin was hosting shows by several local bands on Saturday night, and Giles was in attendance with several family members and friends. Alcohol was being served.

Brian Drewery, a Columbia resident who said he is friends with Giles' family but has only met Giles a few times, said he and up to three other people were in the alley when Giles was urinating and an officer made initial contact with him. The other people in the alley were mutual friends of Drewery and Giles. Drewery said that when Giles turned his back to the officer to say something to the group, the officer grabbed Giles' wrist and told him he was under arrest.

Drewery said Giles pulled his hand from the officer's grasp, at which point the officer pushed Giles against the wall of the alley, directed pepper spray at the right side of his face and brought him to the ground. The officer held him there while he called for backup. At that point, Drewery said, Giles was not resisting. Then, three more officers arrived on the scene. He said another officer soon appeared and shot Giles in the back with a Taser while he was on the ground and restrained by officers.

Daniel Giles, Carl Giles' brother, said he went into the alley after learning that his brother was involved in a confrontation with police. He said the officer "manhandled" his brother and pushed him into the wall of the alley and used the pepper spray.

Daniel Giles said the officer had Carl Giles on the ground and called for backup. When other officers arrived, one officer pointed his Taser at Carl Giles' back and activated the device. He said his brother's hands were behind his back when the Taser was used and that he heard one officer say "Taser" twice before activating the device.

One of the Police Executive Research Forum's guidelines states that an officer about to deploy a Taser should warn someone unless it would put any other person at risk.

In a video recorded by Jessica Giles, Carl Giles' sister, after Carl Giles had been Tasered, at least 10 officers can be observed at the scene. Three or four of the officers can be seen attempting to lift Carl Giles to his feet, but he appears unable to stand on his own. The other officers can be seen standing between the crowd that had gathered and the arrest scene. People in the crowd — including brothers and sisters of Giles — can be heard shouting at the officers.

Carl Giles filed an official complaint with the department on Sunday.

Broadus said the level of force used by police in the incident was "excessive."

"We are concerned it amplified to that level of use of force in such a short period of time," he said.

Broadus said he knew Carl Giles before the incident and described him as a "non-violent person."

Giles has no criminal record in Missouri, according to Missouri

Chance Kramer, an employee at Cafe Berlin who also said Carl Giles is his friend, said he was in charge of selling drinks at the event. He said he sold Carl Giles two beers, and that while Carl Giles was in the restaurant, he was not acting in a confrontational or violent manner.

Kramer described the atmosphere at the event on Saturday night as "relaxed" and said he had never seen or heard of any kind of physical altercations occurring at the restaurant.

Kramer said as many as 50 people had gathered outside by the time Carl Giles was taken away by an ambulance.

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Tanner Tucker August 2, 2009 | 11:29 p.m.

Shouldn't have been urinating in public. We have bathrooms for that.

(Report Comment)
CoMoTechie August 2, 2009 | 11:58 p.m.

I count eight police officers in that image. Would Office Haden or Deputy Chief Dresner like to offer any sort of explanation why that many officers were sent to this incident? Unless the crowd was really starting to get out of hand, I'm sure those officers could have been better utilized in other areas of town. Or really doing anything other than standing around.

I am not an anti-Taser person. They are a valuable tool when used properly. But if this man was tasered while laying on the ground and restrained by multiple officers, that's seriously messed up. Any officer who acts in such a manner needs to be told to find alternative employment. Let's see if the new Taser policy is enforced.

Any bets on how much the city is going to end up settling for with this man after he sues? I say a good $20,000 minimum.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 3, 2009 | 4:55 a.m.

>>> Tanner Tucker August 2, 2009 | 11:29 p.m.=
Shouldn't have been urinating in public. We have bathrooms for that. <<<

Such a no brainer.

(Report Comment)
Paul Weber August 3, 2009 | 5:32 a.m.

Who caused the violence in this situation? How often does this happen when people aren't around to report it?

(Report Comment)
Ro Sila August 3, 2009 | 7:12 a.m.

Just because (and this assumes the report is correct) someone is on the ground doesn't mean he isn't fighting the officers. They are not paid to be injured or disabled. And you are so worried about cost -- think of paying disability and healthcare for the rest of these officer's lives with no further benefits to you.

(Report Comment)
Richie Vanskike August 3, 2009 | 7:15 a.m.

The officers on each scene have training, additional officers, force, ASP's, k-9's, pepper spray and probably even more tools, OTHER than tasers, that can be used in VIOLENT situations - so why are cops so quick to use tasers - especially in a completely NON-violent situation like this one?!?!? That kid in Moberly died when he was tased in a non-violent situation, very similar to this one. More than 400 people have died as a result of being tased. The Missouri Highway Patrol does not use tasers - so the tasers are being used by city cops. I know this is a broad generalization and certainly is doesn't speak to 100% of municipal officers, but it's no secret that many city cops/corrections officers have those positions because they are mentally ill-equiped for anything else and moving beyond their current rank isn't possible. How many of them are actually sadistic? I think the number would frighten all of us and we're seeing more and more proof of that in each one of these taser nightmares that comes to the surface.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox August 3, 2009 | 8:18 a.m.

If the police went around using the tazer on everybody who was guilty of public urination they would have tazed every homeless person in town. Cops use the tazer too frequently they need to be taken away.

(Report Comment)
Laura Reiss August 3, 2009 | 8:49 a.m.

I really love the one sided perspective of this "news story". A real story waits until it has both sides and allows the reader to make their own opinion.

The guy was urniating in public folks. It is a public health problem. I know I won't be going there any longer for breakfast. Such a shame for the business to allow this to happen, and yes I blame the business and their party goers. People want to be treated in civil manner should act in a civil manner, and urniating in the streets/alleys isn't the way to do it.

By the way, the business should be fined if they didn't have their liquor license, which by the way the article did not say since they were selling it did they have the special permit to do so.

(Report Comment)
Paul Weber August 3, 2009 | 9:05 a.m.

Several comments seem to indicate that peeing in an alley means that a person should be assaulted. Come on, people.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 3, 2009 | 9:14 a.m.

Laura Reiss wrote:

"The guy was urniating in public folks. It is a public health problem. I know I won't be going there any longer for breakfast."

Too bad - I'm told they have some very good food.

Normal urine is sterile. It's not a public health problem (like defecation might be). Especially since they don't prepare their food in the alley, nothing about this incident should make you worry about getting sick from their food.


(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 3, 2009 | 9:22 a.m.

If we're gonna have chickens roosting in this town's backyards, we might as well also have jackasses pissing in our alleys too.

(Report Comment)
Dave Jones August 3, 2009 | 9:24 a.m.

"It is a public health problem. I know I won't be going there any longer for breakfast."

The guy peed on the outside of the building. Do you have any idea how many dogs/cats/random wild animals have peed on that exact same spot? I peed downtown once. Not gonna tell you where though. I hope you're not paranoid about that kind of stuff.

Since when did suspicion of urinating in public result in being arrested anyhow? Everyone I've ever known that peed in public just got a ticket.

(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 3, 2009 | 9:33 a.m.

I'm not seeing this story on the Trib's site. My guess is they don't consider a story based almost entirely on the perp's family's video and statements as objective journalism.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 3, 2009 | 9:38 a.m.

Let's all wait until the police review any and all recordings those officers may have gotten plus and and all dash cam footage after the cruisers pulled on scene before we go hanging CPD on this one.

Ya the guy is guilty as hell of pissing in public but none of us really know what happened there obviously.

(Report Comment)
Richie Vanskike August 3, 2009 | 10:17 a.m.

The point has nothing to do with public urination - it is about the excessive/unnecessary use of force. This could have been about a suspected bank robbery - the point would be the same: the knee-jerk-reaction of using a potentially deadly taser in a non-violent situation when a person is compliant with the officer's commands is irresponsible and wrong.

(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 3, 2009 | 10:23 a.m.

some people will by their own nature make the snap judgement that law enforcement is always the at fault party. these are the same people who will claim that pulling your hand away from an arresting office is somehow managing to also be "compliant."

(Report Comment)
Scott Southwick August 3, 2009 | 10:51 a.m.

Joe - it's not about whether pulling your hand away is compliant, or even good judgment. The issue is whether that kind of behavior --low-level exasperation, irritation, call it defiance even-- is pepper-spray or tazer-worthy.

Police are trained in all sorts of conflict resolution, trained better than any of us. But if you give a guy a magic wand that simply stops conflict cold, he's going to use it. And if you've got that magic wand, you don't have to be so careful with your own words and actions; you can risk escalation, risk aggravating a misdemeanor-committer in an alley.

(Report Comment)
Kirk Davis August 3, 2009 | 12:36 p.m.

From the article - "Another guideline states that a subject who has been Tasered should receive medical evaluation."

I'm often described as being slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun in my politics, but in this case I don't care who started it, how it transpired, or whether the guy is a wanted felon. What I see that thoroughly disgusts me is 8 Columbia Policemen standing around while two of them try to drag to his feet a non-functioning person they have just tasered. Are these guys nitwits, lamebrains, or full blown idiots? Any Scout in sight of this would be screaming, "Don't move him!"

It's as if in their mind getting him on his feet will prove to everyone including themselves that, "He's not really hurt." If the guideline says what the article says it does, then reason alone would seem to require that one get that medical evaluation done before the subject is moved.

Of course we all know how this will go. The Department will investigate and determine that the Officers "acted appropriately." I just hope everyone who saw the video remembers this.

(Report Comment)
Kelsey Lincoln August 3, 2009 | 1:42 p.m.

There is a statement from the police. There are a few statements from witnesses, friends, family, etc. How is that one-sided journalism?

The use of a taser can be deadly. How would this situation be if Giles had died from this? Public urination is bad, yes. Jerking your hand away from a police officer cuffing it is bad as well. But, is the punishment worthy of possibly dying?

Not that I condone the use; but where are the tasers when there are VIOLENT confrontations happening outside Tonic & Quinton's? Would the cops be as quick to use the taser if it wasn't a facility that promotes alternative lifestyles? Which does have their picnic license to serve beer and wine... as well as only one restroom... and very good food.

Instead of me feeling safe because the PD is "better equipped" and more "prevention motivated"... I am more scared.

(Report Comment)
Frank Fisher August 3, 2009 | 2:12 p.m.

The "one-sided" comment pertains to the original version of this story which did not include a police statement. I want to know why the unedited video was posted when one still image of the man being dragged away would have sufficed. I can go to YouTube for pointless camera phone videos.

Don't tase me bro.

(Report Comment)
spatula jones August 3, 2009 | 2:13 p.m.

As owner of Cafe Berlin, I'd like to address some of the comments left here. We have all of our appropriate liquor licenses; city, county, state. otherwise we wouldn't serve alcohol. period. i find it odd how quickly folks jump to conclusions and point a finger at the business as if it's my responsibility to keep tabs on every single patron at all times. we're not big brother and what happened Saturday night happened not in the business, but outside in an alley behind the business. on another note, all employees are extensively toilet trained.

(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 3, 2009 | 2:21 p.m.

@ spatula jones: as a frequenter of your establishment, your eggs benny is simply amazing.

I for one do not hold your business personally responsible for the personal hygiene (in this case, lack of regard for) of your patrons once they have left your establishment.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 3, 2009 | 2:32 p.m.

@spatula jones:
Oh yea. Your employees might be toilet trained, but I heard a rumor that you guys installed a $3 cover charge at your patrons' bathroom front door. No wonder all your customers were relieving themselves in the alley ways.
And unless you've installed cameras in your employee toilets, how do you know they all wash their hands when they've finished doing their "business?"
I've seen both the movie and the play of Cabaret and I'm very concerned about having such a decadent Berlin Cafe so close to home.
The gestapo are eveywhere, mein Herr...

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 3, 2009 | 2:37 p.m.

@Cafe Berlin:
spatula jones, all kidding aside, your place has a well deserved favorable reputation. Keep up the good work...
(Is spatula German for great chef?)

(Report Comment)
Richie Vanskike August 3, 2009 | 3:35 p.m.

@ joe withheld - certainly, pulling his arm away wasn't being compliant, but when that guy got zapped in the back with 50,000 volts he had already been quickly thrown to the wall, pepper-sprayed, then thrown face-first to the ground with his hands behind his back - bro, in that position he was textbook compliant, yet the taser in the back came AFTER all that. if those facts are accurate i don't think i'm making a "snap judgement that law enforcement is always the at fault party" when i find fault with on over-zealous cop or eight. in the video the guy's body is rubber and the girl's voice we hear is saying he has snot running over his face - he presumably isn't capable of basic motor skills - like standing up! the pepper-spray by itself would probably have made this one of the worst nights of this guy's life.
this situation is gross - defending it is worse.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 3, 2009 | 3:49 p.m.

>>> I just hope everyone who saw the video remembers this. <<<

That video does not show the beginning of this confrontation. Until we hear the police side nobody knows jack diddly about exactly how it went down unless somebody was giving the guy who was pissing a helping hand while he was doing it.

Let's all wait until the police review any and all recordings those officers may have gotten plus and and all dash cam footage after the cruisers pulled on scene before we go hanging CPD on this one.

(Report Comment)
Laura Reiss August 3, 2009 | 3:58 p.m.

I would like to apologize to spatula jones i did not realized you had a permit for liquor or an event at your establishment. Once again it goes to the reporting side...I know you all for eggs and bacon, not music and beer.
I would have hoped the patrons of your establishment in the evening would have presented themselves in a more civil manner. I agree pee is suppose to be sterile, and that feral cats roam the streets but isn't that what seperates us from our four legged friends.
Again I apologize to the business, didn't mean to offend you personally.

(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 3, 2009 | 4:09 p.m.

now that the missourian has remembered that it's supposed to act like a newspaper and embrace some of the principles of journalistic integrity (ie, the addition of more details regarding Giles attitude during the arrest)my original assessment was spot on: he comes off sounding like a real jackass.

cops have enough to deal with, much less contending with a smarmy, possibly inebriated, miscreant who has no regard for other's property.

(Report Comment)
Richie Vanskike August 3, 2009 | 4:17 p.m.

@ Charles Dudley Jr
well the jack diddly we DO know is that a guy who was suspected of peeing in an alley got beaten-up, peppered-sprayed and electrocuted by the CPD. i suppose their violence was making the alley a safer place?

that was saturday night - this is monday after noon - facts have been gathered, a video has been collected, a story has been written and made it way online with a few dozen concerned comments, newscenter 8 is doing a story at 10 o'clock, KMIZ has something in the works for 6 o'clock and the guy has an attorney who's speaking publicly - CPD still hasn't offered their details. when do you suggest "we go hanging CPD on this one?"

(Report Comment)
Richie Vanskike August 3, 2009 | 4:25 p.m.

@ joe withheld
your words are wildly hypocritical, not to mention unqualified. while you're actually assuming this person was/is a "smarmy, possibly inebriated, miscreant who has no regard for other's property" you're not appreciating that, unless this person was armed and/or an immediate threat to those around him - which, by all accounts, he was not - then the use of this level of force is borderline criminal.

(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 3, 2009 | 4:48 p.m.

not an "immediate threat to those around him."

from the tribune:

He would not comply, so the officer attempted to handcuff him,” Haden said. “He got one handcuff on, but Giles was resisting and pulling away. With one hand in handcuffs and the other swinging free, that can become a dangerous weapon, and the officer needed to get him under control.”

ad to this the fact that the person you are defending chose to urinate not more than fifty paces from one of the busiest intersections in town-- i think smarmy is actually letting this creep of too easily.

(Report Comment)
Richie Vanskike August 3, 2009 | 5:02 p.m.

so a potentially dangerous swinging hand-cuff from someone who is "pulling away" equals brute force AND pepper-spray AND 50,000 volts of electricity in the back when he's already on the ground with his hands behind his back AND 8 cops??? come ON!
what you heard as defense for this guy was actually criticism of the unnecessary violence that was administered to him.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 3, 2009 | 7:07 p.m.

Richie Vanskike you forget to add that nobody in the general public has seen any dash cam video if there is any and there more than likely is some because those dash cams run almost 24/4 especially when any officer makes a stop.

(Report Comment)
Richie Vanskike August 3, 2009 | 9:01 p.m.

well i wish the dashboard camera footage was available - maybe with it we will see that this guy actually had a weapon of mass destruction, making this level of violence truly necessary.

(Report Comment)
Ben Cairns August 3, 2009 | 10:23 p.m.

I was there from the end of the confrontation on. The only member of the family I know is Carl Giles' half brother who was supposed to play music with his band only minutes later and he instead left to follow Carl to the hospital.

The police handled the whole thing so badly. While there were people yelling at the police at the front of the crowd, the police were not behaving much more maturely. One female police officer threatened to arrest Carl's sister for shouting at her.

The police attempted to move Carl long before medical assistance arrived, as is evident by the short video posted.

He peed in an alleyway. Near a garbage can and a grease depository. Even if he had the most rancid urine in the entire world, it has nothing on what can normally be found in that alleyway; it has nothing on what could normally be found in ANY alleyway, for that matter.

While I respect CPD for all the work they do for Columbia, they seriously need to straighten out some priorities.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 3, 2009 | 10:43 p.m.

@Ben Cairns:
My computer has smell-a-vision. Thanks for ruining my evening.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 4, 2009 | 4:37 a.m.

>>> One female police officer threatened to arrest Carl's sister for shouting at her. <<<

That would have been a legal arrest to for interfering in a police operation in progress.

>>> Even if he had the most rancid urine in the entire world, it has nothing on what can normally be found in that alleyway; <<<

Then how come the owner if he knows of this nasty alley way does not work with the city to clean it up? Maybe the Health Department should check into that dirty alley he uses too.

(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 4, 2009 | 8:40 a.m.

all we need now is for our idiot mayor to come out and accuse the entire CPD of acting "stupidly."

it's a tough way to learn a lesson- but if you get busted for urinating in public and then make it difficult for the police to conduct their investigation-- there's a chance you may get hurt.

(Report Comment)
Another Voice August 4, 2009 | 10:54 a.m.

Many of the cases arise out of the use of vague "disorderly conduct" laws, as was the case with Professor Gates. Other examples involve the enforcement of very specific prohibitions on the use of a particular category of speech in addressing a police officer, like cursing, or obscene or opprobrious language.
No matter the specifics of the law being enforced, controlling principles have become well established in the courts. People, including arrestees, have a right to free speech allowing them to protest their treatment to the arresting officer. According to the Supreme Court, "the First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers." To be certain, these rights are not absolute. The speech is not protected if it constitutes a true threat or "fighting words" -- "those personally abusive epithets which, when addressed to the ordinary citizen, are, as a matter of common knowledge, inherently likely to provoke violent reaction." Mere vulgarity and humiliation are not enough.

Of course the notion that the police can legitimately respond with force in the face of epithets seems strangely at odds with the concept of the modern law enforcement professional. The courts agree. As Justice Powell wrote in the seminal case, Lewis v. City of New Orleans, "a properly trained officer may reasonably be expected to exercise a higher degree of restraint than an average citizen, and thus be less likely to respond belligerently to 'fighting words'."
State courts simply do not allow arrests for disorderly conduct because a person uses loud, non-inciteful language in the presence of a small number of peaceful individuals who gather at the scene of an arrest. This limitation under state law should have been known to a reasonable police officer.

(Report Comment)
Another Voice August 4, 2009 | 11:33 a.m.

Police brutality seems to be happening all over the country...misuse of authority, power. Just Google it the evidence is very clear. The Columbia PD is not different.

(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 4, 2009 | 11:55 a.m.

so in summation: it's more important to submit a hasty and unbalanced story, so long as it gives you the chance to be the first to break it.

the trib waited. i wonder if the two papers' respective circulation #s are any indication of how the public views their journalistic integrity?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 4, 2009 | 1:23 p.m.

If you desire a balanced story, you might be waiting until the Proffesional Standards Unit or the about-to-form citizens review board looks into the event. I, for one, appreciate the Missourian getting the story out when they did and also keeping people up-to-date as they received more information.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 4, 2009 | 2:25 p.m.

I agree John.

(Report Comment)
Richie Vanskike August 5, 2009 | 10:12 a.m.

@ joe withheld:
"if you get busted for urinating in public and then make it difficult for the police to conduct their investigation-- there's a chance you may get hurt."

hurt MAYbe, in an extreme situation - but beaten-up, peppered sprayed & electrocuted by the police??? for this? really??? its amazing that you can continue to defend this.

(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 5, 2009 | 10:20 a.m.

@ richie vanskike: I am also amazed at your willingness to automatically assume the police are lying.

(Report Comment)
jamison simpson August 5, 2009 | 11:19 a.m.

I've gotta say, I'm glad I moved out of Columbia when I did. The CPD is getting a little big for its britches. I don't know why I'm so drawn to this story, but I keep following it. Oh, and the majority of you sound like really conservative redneck a-holes in your comments. Maybe you should move to Nevada? I have pissed in that same alley hundreds of times. Get over it. I wouldn't care if I had to watch all of you line up and let go.

(Report Comment)
joe withheld August 5, 2009 | 11:51 a.m.

Three days worth of discussion and not one single ad hominem. until 11:19 am today. and if you are freely making the water willy nilly throughout our town, your departure should only be greeted warmly.

(Report Comment)
Richie Vanskike August 6, 2009 | 9:22 a.m.

@ joe withheld...
i don't assume or even think the police are lying about anything, but i do think they're doing a horrible job of keeping the peace when they actually create violence.

(Report Comment)

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