Ty Turner, a young black man who had run in the Democratic primary for the state senate in North Carolina this year, was arrested on Monday evening while placing voting rights literature on the windshields of cars in Charlotte as a Moral Mondays rally was taking place in nearby Marshall Park.
Two bicycle officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department approached Turner, who is also an activist for LGBT rights, and told him that he was under arrest — refusing to answer him when he asked them what the reason was. When he began to take a video with his cell phone the officers told him to stop and put down the phone.
Turner refused to stop recording the incident and asserted his right to do so, at which time one of the officers attempted to take the phone from him. “Get off of me… I don’t have to put my phone down,” Turner said.
Eventually they cuffed Turner’s hands behind his back and placed him in a patrol car, driving away from the scene but did not take him to the Mecklenburg County jail only a few blocks away. “They took me to three different spots other than the jail,” Turner told Think Progress. “They knew they were in the wrong.”
When the police drove off with Turner, a friend went to the rally in Marshall Park and alerted the group about what had transpired.
The leaders of the rally led a small crowd of about 30 people from the park to the jail silently following friends of Turner and members of the clergy including Reverend Dr. William Barber—the founder of Moral Mondays and President of the North Carolina NAACP. When they arrived at the jail, the desk officer informed them that Turner, who was arrested well before the group began its walk to the jail, had not yet arrived. He also told them that Turner would not be released until mug shots were taken and he was fingerprinted.
As the group waited for Turner to arrive, Dr. Barber spoke to them saying:
“Police are hired by police chiefs, who are hired by people that are elected. I want you to be angry. Rosa Parks got angry and she changed the world. Take this incident and turn it into power. Anyone who says they’re upset about this profiling of black men, ask them if they’re registered to vote. That’s how we change this system.”
While the crowd waited for Turner’s arrival, local Reverend Kojo Nantambu called the national president of the NAACP who placed a call to the police department and demanded that Turner be released.
Shortly before Turner finally did arrive at the jail, police told the crowd that he would be issued a citation and released. When he did arrive, he emerged from the squad car sweating and limping to the cheers of those gathered to support him.
The video below was taken by Turner during his arrest.