A video taken in St. Paul earlier this year shows exactly how cops — and others — see black people. The man who took the video found himself supposedly on the wrong side of the law for the heinous crime of sitting in a public area, near a bank, waiting for his kids, while being black. The Young Turks did a story on the video, and it’s very disturbing, to say the least.
Aaron Rupar, who wrote about the incident for CityPages, says that security from the First National Bank called the police to report a man loitering in a private, employees-only area. The man taking the video, Chris Lollie, spoke calmly and rationally when an officer approached and started questioning him, and not at all belligerently — even though he believed the responding officer was violating his rights!
When another officer showed up, Lollie was still calm and rational. It wasn’t until the second officer started saying, for no reason, that Lollie was going to jail, and ordered him to put his hands behind his back, that he began getting upset.
But that upset tone still wasn’t belligerence. The male officer who originally ordered him to put his hands behind his back is actually the one who got belligerent, when Lollie was trying to figure out what laws he’d broken. Nobody answered that question. Instead, they tased him, right in front of his children.
Anybody watching the video can hear the taser going off (it sounds like a whole lot of clicks). Then they arrested him. Lollie kept crying out for help, and saying he didn’t do anything wrong, during the whole ugly scene.
In a follow-up piece, Rupar reveals that the police department defended their actions. They charged him with disorderly conduct, trespassing, and obstructing the legal process, however, prosecutors dropped those charges in July when witness accounts supported Lollie’s version of events, rather than the police’s version.
One of those witness accounts came from a woman who didn’t work for the First National Bank, but often had her lunch in the same area that security officers and police say Lollie was trespassing in. She said nobody ever hassled her for sitting there. It does appear, more and more, that the police decided to hassle Lollie because he dared to sit in a public area, near a bank, while he was black. Being black, especially a black man, automatically makes someone suspect in the eyes of a lot of people.
The video, even the edited version that The Young Turks showed, doesn’t justify any use of force. And if other people who don’t work for the bank can sit there without problems, then why single out Lollie?
And what is with police departments defending this, instead of investigating and admitting that they need to investigate incidents like this? Chances are pretty good that, if this were a white person, and this same thing happened, the department would have suspended the officers involved, pending investigation. In our allegedly innocent-until-proven-guilty society, “innocent” becomes “guilty, because reasons,” if the suspect is black.
Besides all of that, according to Rupar’s follow-up, one of St. Paul’s foremost police misconduct attorneys says that the police had no reason to tase Lollie, even if he was committing misdemeanors.
Lollie plans to sue the city and file a formal complaint against the police department as soon as possible.
Watch the police tase Lollie the full 5-minute video of the confrontation
h/t: The Young Turks