If you are planning a trip to Neptune Beach, Florida, on the 4th of July, or any other time for that matter, leave your patriotism and your guitar at home. Why? Well, because even though the good people of Neptune Beach appreciate a good guitar lick, with a patriotic spin, the police department does not.
Lane Pittman, let loose with a great rendition of the national anthem, on the sidewalk, in front of a friend’s home, for the surrounding crowd to enjoy, and they clearly did, on the afternoon of the 4th, and was hauled away to jail for peace disturbance.
He offered no resistance or showed any disrespect to the police, in any way, but . . .
NewsJax4.com: Pittman said he tried to respectfully explain that another officer had told him it was OK to play on the sidewalk. He said the officers were rude and would not tell him what he was being arrested for. He said they never read him his rights.
Pittman said he was charged with breach of peace, which is a misdemeanor, and was given a notice to appear, which is a written arrest.
Pittman said the officers told him they wanted to charge him with inciting a riot and take him to jail to keep him overnight, but they didn’t have the resources to take him Downtown.
“That blows my mind, because it was peaceful up until the time they arrested me,” Pittman said.
“There’s always two sides to the story. They only show on YouTube what they want you to see,” Sembach said. “The whole thing was not on YouTube, and as I said, he was told the first time, ‘You could not play. It was causing a disturbance.’”
He wasn’t drunk and it was 3pm in the afternoon. What do you think? Was he in the wrong, or is this just big government oppression? Here’s the video of the event. You decide.
Attorney Caleb Rowland is representing Pittman.
“I’ve never seen a law that says you can’t play the national anthem on a sidewalk,” Rowland said. “Disturbing the peace could be used to cover a lot of conducts that may not necessarily be criminal. I guess we’re going to have to wait and see what the state attorney decides to do with it.”
Pittman has no criminal record. He plays in his church’s band, is a high school lacrosse coach and is well-known in the beaches community. Pittman said he is hoping to be the next Jaxson de Ville.
Sembach told News4Jax he thinks because of Pittman’s mascot ambitions, it’s possible the whole incident was a publicity stunt on his part.
“It looked to me like he was enjoying the Independence Day festivities, and the guy can clearly play guitar,” Rowland said. “I can understand if he was out there screaming profanities or something like that, that there wold at least be an arguable basis for criminal charges, but given what he was doing, I don’t see it that way.”
Pittman said he does not drink and had no alcohol in his system when the police took him away. He said he’s worried the incident will affect his future and the possibility of getting a good job.
Pittman said he respects police officers, but incidents like this give the small city of Neptune Beach a bad name, and he might not want to come back anymore.
“I’m hopeful that we can get his resolved without any charges,” Rowland said. “And Mr. Pittman can go on his merry way and play the national anthem as loud as he wants to, pretty much wherever he wants to.”
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