ATLANTA (AP) — A British historian was knocked down and arrested for jaywalking while in the city for a convention.

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto was attending the American Historical Association’s convention in Atlanta last week when he was stopped by a plainclothes police officer after crossing a street in downtown Atlanta.

“Where I come from, jaywalking is not a crime,” Fernandez-Armesto said. “It did not occur to me that there was anything wrong with what I was doing.”

And the former Oxford professor, who has written 19 books, said the situation grew more tense when he did not immediately realize it was a police officer who was questioning him.

“When I questioned who he was he said something to the effect of ’When I give you an order, you obey it,”’ Fernandez-Armesto said. “I asked him what his authority was because I didn’t see a badge. Where I’m from, you don’t associate young gentlemen in bomber jackets with the police. But he was extremely upset I had questioned his bona fides.”

Fernandez-Armesto, 56, said he was unable to produce proper identification because he had left his green card in his hotel room.

At that point, he says the officer lost patience, kicked his legs from under him and held him down. Two other officers helped hold him down as he was arrested.

Fernandez-Armesto said he suffered a gash on his forehead and a bruise on his wrist as he tried to break his fall.

“It was the most violence I’ve ever experienced in my life,” he said. “And I was mugged once while at Oxford.”

Fernandez-Armesto, who is currently a professor at Tufts University in Massachusetts, spent the next eight hours in custody.

“I was in a state of paralytic fear,” he said. “My livelihood is dependent on coming over to the U.S., and any record would’ve ruined my way of life.”

Fernandez-Armesto appeared the next morning in traffic court, “throwing myself on the mercy of the judge.” Charges were eventually dropped and he was released.

“I think it was quite clear to everyone that this entire matter had gotten completely out of hand,” he said.

Police confirmed the professor was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, said Officer Steve Coleman of the Atlanta Police Department. But Coleman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that more details of the arrest were not available Monday night and police would not be able to comment.

In the meantime, Fernandez-Armesto is left with a bad impression of his first trip to Atlanta, where crimes far more serious than jaywalking occur frequently.

“I must say I didn’t get to experience the Southern hospitality I’d heard so much about,” he said.

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