You probably don’t know this – I didn’t know it myself until last night – but I am a hooligan. At least, that’s according to one Officer James Acosta of the Phoenix P.D. and the thoroughly overwhelmed and overmatched supervisor of “nationally recognized” Reach 11 Sports Complex in north Phoenix.
I’m not the only one. Heck, I’m not even a major offender – unlike other members of La Furia Roja, the eminently harmless supporters group for the professional Phoenix FC Wolves of the United Soccer Leagues, I wasn’t threatened with arrest even once, much less multiple times.
Here’s the short version …
- Phoenix FC moves its games from Sun Devil Stadium to Reach 11 in a cost-cutting move
- Reach 11 has no fencing to separate fans from the field – people were setting up picnic blankets three feet from the field of a professional sporting contest in the same country where you can’t bring a purse to an NFL game anymore. Think about that
- Referee for the match makes a truly awful call
- LFR, led by a handsome Realtor specializing in the Northwest Valley, starts a chant suggesting an anatomical impossibility directed at said referee
- Referee, apparently unnerved by being yelled at by three dozen people (thin skin, much?), the lack of fencing and his necessary walk past the Navajo fry bread truck (not joking), tells the stadium operations folks that LFR can no longer use the bullhorn used for 12 prior matches because the folks chanting are “inciting a riot”
Now here’s where emotions, largely on the part of Officer James Acosta, come into play to the detriment to all.
It would have been no big deal for Officer James Acosta to come over and ask LFR to put the bullhorn away at the referee’s request. Unfortunately, that’s not what Officer James Acosta decided to do. Instead, he came over ready to take on the evil hooligans who dared question a referee’s terrible call. And that’s where things escalated.
I’m not sure what they teach as far as crowd control goes. I don’t think it includes Officer James Acosta shouting at some members of LFR, “Do you want to know how much you know about the law when I arrest him legally? Is that what you want? Let me know. Do you want me to arrest him to show you that I mean business?” And then he turned to the section of maybe three dozen people and yelled, “Raise your hands if you want this guy arrested.” When no one did, he taunted the crowd for not having the guts to raise their hands, “oh, I don’t see anybody’s hands going up.”
And again … this was over a referee’s request to put away a bullhorn. Not exactly the 1968 Democratic Convention, though Officer James Acosta did his best to escalate things to that point.
One member was threatened with arrest three separate times, another – an attorney no less – was escorted out. Another was harassed by another officer because, no surprise in this day and age, phone videos were rolling on about a dozen smartphones as this fiasco took place. Oh, and Officer Acosta referred to the person being harassed as a “moron” for daring to tape someone being tossed from a sporting event for doing exactly nothing.
I’ve not even gotten to the point where the Reach 11 supervisor, seeing what was happening, waded into the fray and threatened to eject anyone who used profanity because, you know, that never happens at a sporting event.
(An aside: LFR has two chants that use profanity. I could live with or without them. The usual defense from the soccer crowd is this is part of soccer culture; I say go to a Phoenix Suns game when the referee blows a call and let me know how long it takes before a reference to the feces of a male bovine starts up. Yet I don’t see anyone being tossed from a Suns, Diamondbacks or Cardinals game for such a thing. Ever.)
All of this could and should have been avoided. If Officer James Acosta had not gotten his dander up and decided to wade in like he’s trying to break up a Brazilian riot, nothing happens. The bullhorn goes away and life goes on. Instead, he personally decided it was more important to make sure, like Cartman, that everyone respected his authority.
This isn’t a screed against the police … what they do, the risks they take and the sacrifices they make are beyond most of our understanding and deserve all the praise in the world.
But Officer James Acosta, working off-duty to earn some overtime pay, acted in a manner that would shame his police brethren. Instead of defusing a situation, he elected to throw gasoline on the fire.
Did I mention that at one point he yelled at the Phoenix FC staff member trying to break the tension that he was all set to call in more units, presumably to break up the riot that wasn’t.
It truly was a shameful, disgraceful display by this one particular officer.
Now, I was going to tie this to real estate – an old speech about the best reason to get an agent is that the agent can help keep emotions out of the transaction, or at least help navigate the turbulent waters without watching a simple transaction explode because one side or the other is turning into a molehill. But, frankly, I’m so incensed simply thinking of the actions of Officer Acosta at what was the last game of the season (and possibly last game ever) simply to prove his own mettle, I can’t really do the real estate hook justice.
And so, until next time, adieu.