Inebriated Runners Wearing TSA Costumes Get Swarmed by Police Near Airport Runway
Standing on the curb to make himself a foot taller, Deputy Michael Kantor yelled at Stifel, who stood barefoot, handcuffed, and with his head down. "You're giving me nothing but attitude. I'm trying to help you and your group from being hit by a car." Certain that he was going to jail, Stifel then arranged for another hasher to take his German Shepherd, with whom he was running with that evening, home for him.
Holding back tears, Stifel then repeated his name and address to the officer, who filled out a police report. After seeing the other runners filming the incident on their smartphones, the deputy quipped that they should "make sure to get [his] good side."
Noticing his audience (and my notepad), Kantor began to lecture on civil disobedience --and claimed to be "all for it." Stifel tried to explain that's not what the Hash House Harriers are about -- that they try to have a good time, not provoke political stunts. But it all went over the deputy's head as he continued about the importance of airport security after 9/11.
Jess Swanson Stifel, handcuffed, stating his name and address for Deputy Kantor.
After allegedly making a call on his cell phone (he turned his back and spoke indistinguishably to an unlit screen), Kantor announced that he "didn't want to take anyone to jail."
Saying he would send the police report to the state attorney, who would then determine whether to press charges, Kantor freed Stifel from his handcuffs. "I would feel better if someone drove you home," Kantor explained even though it was obvious the other four runners present had been drinking as much, if not more, than Stifel.
Nevertheless, in the custody of his fellow Hasher, Stifel left his car in the Publix parking lot and joined the rest of his trespassing brethren at the pub.
Hare raiser Dick Paris, or as he is known by his hash, "Virgin Dick," is the equivalent of the group's community manager. He organizes the runs and is in charge of the Facebook page and website. Later he comically announced to the group that the night will be remembered as the "No One Got Arrested Hash." Even though a police report was filed with the Broward Sherriff's Office, the group seemed to be celebrating that no one had to be bailed out of county jail that night.
"We really should be more careful, but I personally had a great time being a Hasher tonight." Paris said on Facebook. "I still wish we could have run the hill [past the constriction site] and am wondering if somehow we can't get permission, or something."
According to Paris, the Hash House Harriers usually frequent Dania Beach for their runs. Despite the questionable legality of their drink-run-drink routine, the Hash has rarely been intercepted by law enforcement, and Paris hopes to keep it that way.
"While I especially enjoyed running and watching as the [police] force chased us pretty much ineffectually around the airport grounds, I am reluctant to make an issue with any police force or officer." Paris said in an online message after the incident. "In general, the Hash gets along well with local police and respects law enforcement and therefore, and even in this case, rarely been arrested or prosecuted."
On Friday, police released the incident report on the matter. Deputy Kantor's comments reveal a profound misunderstanding of the run. He wrote:
"I learned that this group of runners was chasing a 'HARE' who was reportedly running through the airport construction site. the object of the event was to 'Catch the hare' and share beer, which he (the hare) was carrying."
His report claims that the site was fenced, that there were "no trespassing" signs posted, and that there were approximately 100 runners. (This reporter saw concrete barriers but no fence, and counted 34 runners.)
It also notes that Stifel had been arrested in September 2012 for trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting an officer, and battery on an officer. Court records suggest he was put on probation.
Kantor's report also says runners came to police attention when "BSO had received an anonymous tip that reported multiple runners were going to attempt to breech [sic] the airport fence and run into the construction area. The Broward New Times was covering the event, and they may have made the tip to instigate a police incident with the runners."
What!? Dripping with sweat and after downing a few beers and Jell-O shots, this reporter was embedded with the hashers, not tattling on them! Besides, narcs are the worst! And here at New Times, we report the news, not "instigate" it.
Stifel did not return calls or reply to messages seeking comment after the run.