Man Tased, Arrested for Crime of Being Black in St. Paul, Minnesota
by Dan Savage
on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 11:31 AM
A man was sitting in a public place waiting to pick his kids up from school. He wasn't breaking any laws. A shop owner asked him to move—which the shop owner had no right to do—and the man got up and moved. He was then stopped by a cop who asked him his name. He refused to give his name. "I know my rights," the man said to the cop. And he did know his rights: he was under no obligation to identify himself to her. "Minnesota does not currently have a 'stop and identify' statute in place" that would give police the right to arrest someone for [not] identifying himself," RawStory points out. The cop, unfortunately, didn't know his rights. When the cop tells the man that she's asking his name in an effort to figure out what the problem was—why the shopkeeper asked him to move—the man responds: "The problem is I'm black."
"I've got to go get my kids," the man says to both officers. The male officer attempts to grab the man's arm. The man pulls away. "Please don't touch me," he says.
"You're going to go to jail, then."
"I'm not doing anything wrong," the man replies.
Both officers grab the man.
"Come on, brother," the man says. "This is assault."
"I'm not your brother," the male officer replies. "Put your hands behind your back; otherwise it's going to get ugly."
A struggle ensues, the man drops his cellphone and the video is lost. The audio continues to record, and what can be heard is disturbing. The man yells, "I haven't done anything wrong! Can somebody help me?! That's my kids, right there! My kids are right there!" ... Noises from the Taser being charged can be heard, and then the man screams.
Says Stephen A. Crockett Jr. at The Root: "It isn't the footage so much as the screams."
If the cops in your community aren't equipped with badge cams—or if they refuse to wear cameras, or if there's a chance they could disable them—then it's a good idea for citizens, particularly black citizens, to carry their own video cameras wherever they go.
Both these cops are going to get fired, right? And there will be a big demonstration outside that shop, right?
UPDATE: It's also a good idea for young gay people with homophobic family members to keep a camera handy.