Cell phone video of a black man’s arrest is drawing outrage with footage showing the man being handcuffed after allegedly walking in the street where a sidewalk was under construction.
In the seven-minute video, posted to YouTube Wednesday, the man is first seen arguing with a white Edina, Minnesota officer who tightly holds the back of his jacket in an apparent attempt to prevent him from running away.
“You’re walking down the middle of the street,” the officer says in the video, as he appears to forcefully pull the man toward the center lane and around a parked car.
“I’m on the damn white line!” answers the man. “You can’t just put your hands on me like that!”
The woman filming the incident is repeatedly heard suggesting to the police officer that, instead of arresting the man, he show him where to walk.
“He’s scared, sir. It’s scary,” the woman calls out during the heated scene.“It’s because he’s black,” she adds, in a lower voice. The Minnesota NAACP identified the woman as Janet Rowles.
The city, responding to the video in a statement Friday, confirmed that one of two surrounding sidewalks were closed because of construction but said that the video only captured a portion of the incident.
The statement said that the man had been walking in the roadway shortly before the recording started. When the officer turned on his lights and an audible signal, the pedestrian, who was wearing headphones, turned and acknowledged the officer but repeatedly ignored his order to move out of the road, the statement said.
The city said the officer responded by driving ahead and stopping his car, as a means to “block him from continuing in the southbound land of traffic.”
“The man continued to defy the officer’s directives and was belligerent,” the statement read.
The man tested positive for alcohol and was cited for disorderly conduct and failure to obey a traffic signal. He was released 45 minutes later, city officials said.
Minnesota’s NAACP, in its own statement Saturday, called the officer’s behavior “dehumanizing and degrading.”
“Watching that video and seeing a black man being manhandled and emasculated by Edina Police was not only painful and humiliating, it was a vivid reminder that blacks are still too-often seen as second class citizens in the State of Minnesota and in this nation,” stated Nekima Levy-Pounds, a civil rights attorney and president of the Minneapolis NAACP. “It is sad to say, but that man in the video could easily have been the next Philando Castile or Jamar Clark, two unarmed black men who were killed by police within the last year.”
Rowles, the woman who filmed the scene, also spoke out against the man’s treatment, which she called “overzealous.”
“There was absolutely no reason for the officer to stop him from walking. I easily passed him in my vehicle because he was hugging the right side next to the construction, literally walking on the white line that marks the shoulder,” she said in the NAACP’s release. “I have no interest in vilifying the police, but obviously I got out of my car in the first place because I perceive the pedestrian might not get treated fairly because of his ethnicity.”
In addition to asking for an apology, the NAACP has asked that an outside investigation be conducted into the incident and that the officer be suspended without pay.
The police department could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday; nor could the man whom the NAACP identified as the person arrested.
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