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"The problem is I'm black. That's the problem."
August 29, 2014 1:30 PM   Subscribe


 
They kept his cell phone video for six months.

Six months.
posted by mediareport at 1:34 PM on August 29 [27 favorites]


this is really hard to listen to.
posted by sweetkid at 1:37 PM on August 29 [14 favorites]


Oh holy crap that's ugly.
posted by yoink at 1:38 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Im surprised he got the phone back.
posted by KeSetAffinityThread at 1:41 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


That's about as clear a case of "I'm arresting you because you're black and you know your rights and you're clearly smarter than I am and it pisses me off" as you're ever likely to see.
posted by yoink at 1:42 PM on August 29 [94 favorites]


My blood, it is boiling.
posted by tallthinone at 1:42 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


Holy fuck.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:44 PM on August 29


UGGGH.

I would "love" to see someone try to defend this.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:44 PM on August 29


I would "love" to see someone try to defend this.

A few bad apples. [Hamburger, with extra bacon.]
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:46 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


From the CBS news article (last link in post)...

"Lollie says his daughter’s day-care class saw it happen..."


That...I don't even have words. Grotesque.
posted by ian1977 at 1:46 PM on August 29 [11 favorites]


I've been having recurring migraines that have been the worst they've been in months and I seriously wonder if all the recent news like this is aggravating them. How can we ever trust that any police officer isn't just waiting to do something like this? It's sickening. This isn't the country I grew up in anymore.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:46 PM on August 29 [8 favorites]


I read comments despite knowing I shouldn't and it seems like the defense, of course, is "he should have showed them his ID."
posted by sweetkid at 1:47 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


Jadepearl, I think this is the link you meant to post.
posted by Mike Mongo at 1:47 PM on August 29


I would "love" to see someone try to defend this.

Read the comments.
posted by goethean at 1:47 PM on August 29


At some point in the aftermath, did a reporter ever go back to the clerk who called the cops and ask him why he was being a racist jagoff? It's a minor footnote, but all (justified) cop-blaming here is letting someone else off the hook.
posted by fatbird at 1:47 PM on August 29 [11 favorites]


This isn't the country I grew up in anymore.

It is, though. The country is the same, it's just that we all grew up and learned the actual way life is.
posted by elizardbits at 1:48 PM on August 29 [190 favorites]


Actually bitter-girl, I think it is. The difference is we have cell phones recording it all so that we can't collectively shrug it off so easily.
posted by ian1977 at 1:48 PM on August 29 [41 favorites]


This isn't the country I grew up in anymore.

This is so the country you grew up in, if that was the US. I mean, "cop beats up black guy, just 'cos" is really, really, really not a new story. And, in fact, on the whole I think there's probably less of this than there was. Not enough less, of course.
posted by yoink at 1:48 PM on August 29 [73 favorites]


Man, Lollie is just amazingly calm when talking to the cops.

From the second link: "WARNING: This video includes expletives."
That is not the thing that I need a warning against.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:49 PM on August 29 [17 favorites]


It's easy to defend, just blame the victim.

The officers involved in the case were Michael Johnson, Bruce Schmidt and Lori Hayne, who has since retired.

Dave Titus, St. Paul Police Federation president, said Thursday, "These three cops in the skyway, you couldn't get nicer individuals. This guy was acting like a jerk."

posted by tallthinone at 1:49 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


This isn't the country I grew up in anymore.

I'm pretty sure this is exactly the country I grew up in. It's just that I'm seeing it a little bit more clearly now than I did when I was little.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 1:49 PM on August 29 [21 favorites]


Agreed, same country, different year.
posted by sweetkid at 1:49 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


And then there's this statement in the Twin Cities article: "Dave Titus, St. Paul Police Federation president, said Thursday, "These three cops in the skyway, you couldn't get nicer individuals. This guy was acting like a jerk.""
posted by recklessbrother at 1:49 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Yeah, "I'm not your brother," followed by tasing, real nice.
posted by sweetkid at 1:50 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


So that's what Minnesota Nice means.
posted by theodolite at 1:50 PM on August 29 [16 favorites]


Jesus, my childhood was sheltered as fuck, then.

And I say this as someone whose dad played in blues bands and so wasn't exactly in the dark about some of the sketchier activities/stories coming out of the minority-majority clubs/neighborhoods where they played, etc. I wasn't raised in Beverly Hills.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:52 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Since he was just sitting there, unaware that he was somewhere that only employees were supposed to be, I'm pretty sure he wasn't being a jerk until the police demanded to know who he was.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:53 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


I read comments despite knowing I shouldn't and it seems like the defense, of course, is "he should have showed them his ID."

This reminds me of when an acquaintance on my Facebook feed said, "I know, First Amendment and all, but why don't they just arrest all the protestors in Ferguson?" At that point, you are literally wishing that seemingly agreed-upon laws and freedoms did not exist in this country.

"These three cops in the skyway, you couldn't get nicer individuals[.]"

Sure I could! I know law-abiding people who have never unjustifiably assaulted people with tasers! It's quite a thing. Say, have you considered not having violent criminals ruling your streets?
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:53 PM on August 29 [25 favorites]


Man, Lollie is just amazingly calm when talking to the cops.

That is truly amazing. I mean, normally the deal with this sort of thing is that the harassment understandably but fatally leads to the person being harassed acting in such a way that provides at least superficial cover for the subsequent mistreatment. You start shouting or add some emphatic swearwords, maybe you push someone away from you a bit--and of course, that's just "here's your license to do whatever the hell you want with me." But this guy just stays so freaking calm. It's amazing. I hope he takes them to the cleaners and I hope that those cops get kicked off the force. Though even more valuable would be some kind of ongoing federal supervision. A police department that could review that video and defend what those cops did is badly, badly broken.
posted by yoink at 1:54 PM on August 29 [30 favorites]


Seattle: "Westlake Mall Cop Ignores Agitator, Maces African American Bystander at Israel Protest."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:55 PM on August 29 [16 favorites]


The police seem like they are increasing the scope of their responsibilities if they are strong arming someone out of a public area just because they don't like them.

They apply their privilege in such an obviously biased way that it makes even the most easy-going person's blood boil.

It's harder and harder to believe it's just a few bad apples. I believe that line of work draws a certain personality type. The job application should reject anyone who says they've always wanted to become a cop.
posted by Increase at 1:55 PM on August 29 [17 favorites]


Christ. What was the alleged perception of the police officer, anyway - that he was homeless? A drug dealer? It doesn't even make a lick of sense if you're trying to take the side of the cops.
posted by naju at 1:55 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Black In Public I think, naju.
posted by sweetkid at 1:56 PM on August 29 [12 favorites]


How can we ever trust that any police officer isn't just waiting to do something like this? It's sickening. This isn't the country I grew up in anymore.

Honestly, the police have always been this way, and it's only white people that have been unaware of that fact. If you have any doubt, watch "The Murder of Fred Hampton", "Revolution '67", "These Streets Are Watching", or Frontline's episode "Law and Disorder".

What's changed is that social media is making it harder for white people to ignore or be oblivious to police brutality.
posted by ryanshepard at 1:56 PM on August 29 [50 favorites]


Minnesota does not seem to be listed as a state with stop and identify laws, which is the only thin and conceivable justification I can think of applying here.
posted by weston at 1:56 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Black In Public I think, naju.

I know, I mean what was the alleged reason. "This is a private area" doesn't stand up to the facts, so I'm curious what reason they have to defend this.
posted by naju at 1:56 PM on August 29


Because I have the maturity of a 14-year-old, I want to call up their PD and say that I would consider visiting their fair burg, but I have seen videos online of violent gang attacks. Have these people been taken off the street yet? They say it's a sort of knock-out game...just find people sitting around, and then assault them if they don't show ID. Are these people still around? Have the police taken care of them? Oh, they're still here? Oh, they're...you? Wait...do the police know about this? No, that can't be, police officers obey the law. They take an oath and everything. Who are you really?

and then i'd ask gamestop for battletoads and peel away on my skateboard while eating pizza and drinking mountain dew
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:00 PM on August 29 [40 favorites]


memorize this phrase and say it over and over when being hassled by cops:

"am I being detained? Am I free to go?"
posted by any major dude at 2:01 PM on August 29 [10 favorites]


Those are supposed to be the magic words, but I don't think they'd work in this case.
posted by naju at 2:02 PM on August 29 [34 favorites]




And also be white, any major dude.
posted by amicus at 2:03 PM on August 29 [14 favorites]


I know, I mean what was the alleged reason.

Trespassing.

From the first article:
Chris Lollie, 28, said he was sitting on a chair in a downtown skyway Jan. 31 when a security guard told him it was a private area and he couldn't be there. No signs were posted saying it was private, Lollie said. The guard called police.

Lollie was charged with three misdemeanors -- trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing legal process.
posted by zamboni at 2:04 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Those are supposed to be the magic words, but I don't think they'd work in this case.

Yeah, magic words are for white people.
posted by elizardbits at 2:04 PM on August 29 [79 favorites]


Christ. What was the alleged perception of the police officer, anyway - that he was homeless? A drug dealer?

I understand your asking about the allegred reason, not actual reason, which is surely because he's black, but I still want to point out: Neither of those suggested alleged reasons would justify this either.i It's not illegal to be homeless. The homeless have the same right to sit around as anyone else.

It is illegal to deal drugs, but if he wasn't dealing drugs while sitting around, I don't think they can just harass him without a warrant or some actually drug-dealing-evidence-to-arrest him for drug dealing. Drug dealers have the same sitting around rights as anyone else, too.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:04 PM on August 29 [17 favorites]


"These three cops in the skyway, you couldn't get nicer individuals. This guy was acting like a jerk."

This completely law abiding citizen who was sitting in a public place and then calmly explained that he did nothing wrong, that he just wanted to pick his kids up and repeatedly asking what exactly the reason was that they were demanding (unlawfully) that he show ID and detain him? And never getting that answer? Yet *still* just calmly repeating the question?

Yeah. What a jerk.

It's harder and harder to believe it's just a few bad apples.

if it is institutional, though. And the bad apples are the 'old guard'? Well, won't they be the ones in the higher positions and the ones in charge of training the new ones? Maybe that's part of the problem...
posted by Brockles at 2:05 PM on August 29 [14 favorites]



Minnesota does not seem to be listed as a state with stop and identify laws, which is the only thin and conceivable justification I can think of applying here.


Minneapolis, and lots of other MN cities have ordinances requiring you to obey any lawful order from a police officer. Latrell Sprewell has even been cited for it. So a failure to provide ID if ordered can be a reason to be arrested, failure to put your hands where they tell you to can be, failure to stop recording them can (although courts are ruling that cops cannot tell you do this).

And, you know, it's a sort of bullshit, because of this. If this is the law in your city, move to get that law changed.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:05 PM on August 29 [14 favorites]


He has to stay very calm because he knows that "escalating" things can get him murdered in front of his kids by these armed racist fools.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:07 PM on August 29 [125 favorites]


I still want to point out: Neither of those suggested alleged reasons would justify this either.

I understand that, for the record.
posted by naju at 2:07 PM on August 29


Also move for a free pony, because hey. May as well shoot the moon.
posted by No-sword at 2:07 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


I'm not white (Indian American) and never grew up having any personal experience with police brutality. My brother sassed cops plenty as a teenager (though I didn't, unless I was at a protest in DC). My only interaction with cops in NYC have been positive, when I needed them for something. I'm saying this because pretty much all my understanding about race based police brutality has come from my own research and wanting to listen to other people's stories and correcting my own assumptions.

One of the things I did learn was that you should just do whatever the officer tells you (and I didn't learn this as a race based thing, I think it was at school things and the like).

I think a lot of people have that message so ingrained that they see something like this as Lollie's fault, whereas it's his right to withhold his ID, and absolutely out of line that force was used against him because he didn't do what the officer said.

I think reframing that message for everyone is really important, so it gets harder to defend cops by saying people should just do whatever they say and everything will be fine. Clearly when we have people attacked even when they're mostly complying (it's not like he ran from them or even raised his voice), that's not a very safe strategy.
posted by sweetkid at 2:08 PM on August 29 [10 favorites]


naju: " "This is a private area" doesn't stand up to the facts, so I'm curious what reason they have to defend this."

Yeah, not even: From General Policy Statement For The Construction Of The Saint Paul Skyway System:
The skyway system must have a design identity of its own, distinguishing it from other areas with public access within buildings as an aid to citizens in finding their way throughout the system. Further, where there is a public easement in the skyway system, it must be possible to readily identify those public areas so that citizens are cognizant of the location of the skyway path. The system must possess directional clarity and be accessible, identifiable and continuous.
So it sounds like I agree with you that "sitting on a bench" is pretty much not an "employee breakroom" or whatever is being claimed here.
posted by boo_radley at 2:08 PM on August 29 [11 favorites]


This is probably an extremely unpopular view, but I have to say that I was surprised by how uncooperative he seemed to be with the police. I don't argue at all that there was any legitimate reason to stop or question this person, but when he refuses to answer the questions or put his hands behind his back when requested, it's almost guaranteed that the police are going to escalate. I have been stopped/pulled over unfairly in my life - and though I am not black and I appreciate that this may make all the difference in the world -- I have found that the time to argue your case ("I didn't do anything") is after everyone is calm, which usually happens when you show some level of respect and compliance to the police officer.

I get that one can take the view that the police aren't entitled to any level of respect or compliance when a citizen is just minding their own business - and that's probably true. But I suppose, once you're into a citizen/police encounter - whether for good reason or bad reason - it's a very bad plan to refuse to comply with directives.

Or to approach it from a different perspective: cops have to make decisions every day about whether to stop/question someone. They are going to get some of those calls wrong, because people make mistakes. Even assuming that a cop has made the wrong call and stopped someone who should not have been stopped, it is unwise (and not really commendable) to argue with that cop about the merits about whether one should have been stopped or not. You've been stopped and the arguments about whether that was appropriate or not are best addressed in court, in the press, or in a complaint after the fact - not in the heat of the moment on the street.
posted by Mid at 2:08 PM on August 29 [9 favorites]


One of the things I did learn was that you should just do whatever the officer tells you

But why? Because they have guns? Because they are "the law?" This man was sitting in an area where people regularly sit, and waiting for his small children. He had no reason to think the cops were there trying to like, help him.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:11 PM on August 29 [12 favorites]


So if this is correct: "Minneapolis, and lots of other MN cities have ordinances requiring you to obey any lawful order from a police officer" - then this was justified under the law. But that's also patently unconstitutional. EDIT: nevermind, "lawful order." This wasn't a lawful stop/search/arrest, so.
posted by naju at 2:11 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Mid, you and everyone who makes the "just do what the cops say and don't make any sudden movement" argument are saying that we should treat the police the same way we treat angry dogs. Do you believe that police officers are no more trustworthy than angry dogs? Don't we deserve police officers who are more trustworthy than angry dogs?
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:11 PM on August 29 [135 favorites]


put his hands behind his back when requested

this kind of thing always scares me because the guy was probably terrified. We don't even know from the video if he *wasn't* trying to put his hands behind his back, or what the hell was going on, especially since I've seen a bunch of stuff about cops going "stop resisting" while the person was 100% not resisting, but if he didn't put his hands behind his back right away and perfectly he may have been stunned.

I feel like a lot of criticisms of black men who end up in these situations (or far worse) are "they should have done x, as is procedure" but it's not like they have special training in getting arrested. People panic.
posted by sweetkid at 2:13 PM on August 29 [23 favorites]


People are saying Lollie is really calm during this interaction, but in the video, does he not appear to be retreating from the police officers while he is remaining calm?

I don't think it's a citizen's obligation to bear or diffuse unjust police interrogation, but at the same time, I don't understand how police are supposed to deal with a called-in report, a suspect who is walking away and denying identification, and claiming in his defense that he is being detained for being black.

Honestly, even I don't have the expectation to simply walk away from police, even if I am doing nothing. Can a pattern of racial injustice be successfully addressed mid-arrest? Is that the point?
posted by phaedon at 2:13 PM on August 29 [6 favorites]



One of the things I did learn was that you should just do whatever the officer tells you

But why? Because they have guns? Because they are "the law?" This man was sitting in an area where people regularly sit, and waiting for his small children. He had no reason to think the cops were there trying to like, help him.


Read the rest of my comment.
posted by sweetkid at 2:13 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


and though I am not black and I appreciate that this may make all the difference in the world

It really, really does. I can't even come up with a coherent analogy to express how unhelpful all these sorts of "just know your rights/do what you're told" suggestions are when applied to real world situations involving cops and minorities.
posted by elizardbits at 2:14 PM on August 29 [61 favorites]


Those are supposed to be the magic words, but I don't think they'd work in this case.

I agree that it wouldn't have gotten him out of that jam but it would make his civil lawsuit a slam dunk. Face it, we aren't going to make the police less racist, we just aren't. Every cop I've ever been acquainted with either was racist going in or became racist on the job. If we arm black men with cell phone cameras and the magic words then municipalities will be forced to change or go bankrupt trying to defend million dollar lawsuits.
posted by any major dude at 2:14 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


It's harder and harder to believe it's just a few bad apples.
The entire point of the "bad apple" metaphor is that a bad apple in the bunch of apples makes the other ones bad too.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:15 PM on August 29 [77 favorites]


you should just do whatever the officer tells you
This. Unfortunately.

You could tell he was trying to stay calm, but he's being pulled away from his kids, and just like any of us, his middle brain yelling at him not to let himself be separated from his young. that's a hard thing for any of us to do.

But when an officer says "I'm here to place you under arrest", there's not conversation left to be had on that subject. its protocol. I wonder what they'd have done if he'd said "very well. are you going to make sure my kids over there are taken care of"?

Obviously this never should have been an issue in the first place.

*sigh* ugly business, this.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 2:15 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


At some point in the aftermath, did a reporter ever go back to the clerk who called the cops and ask him why he was being a racist jagoff? It's a minor footnote, but all (justified) cop-blaming here is letting someone else off the hook.

I sure would like someone to follow up with the store clerk, because I'd like to be sure that it was a store clerk, and not the police just lying. I once was present for the whole of an incident where a security officer lied about receiving a complaint in order to justify hassling a group of immigrant African students - he claimed he'd received a complaint about noise, but a friend and I had been sitting there the whole time and everyone had been studying quietly, almost without talking. I wrote a letter to the dean of the relevant school and to their security head, but never received a reply.

Also, I bet the fact that this dude has braids and a beard and looks kind of artsy helped make him a target.

Or to approach it from a different perspective: cops have to make decisions every day about whether to stop/question someone. They are going to get some of those calls wrong, because people make mistakes. Even assuming that a cop has made the wrong call and stopped someone who should not have been stopped, it is unwise (and not really commendable) to argue with that cop about the merits about whether one should have been stopped or not. You've been stopped and the arguments about whether that was appropriate or not are best addressed in court, in the press, or in a complaint after the fact - not in the heat of the moment on the street.

So some random black guy is going to get traction in the press or via complaint? I get what you're saying, but I have seen this kind of thing go down many times, and I have become convinced that the only way to get any kind of attention for these complaints is to stand up to the cops and risk escalation. It's just like Ferguson - everyone is all "why are people being so militant and aggro, why can't they be nice and polite" and then you look and it turns out that people have been doing nice polite stuff and gotten no media coverage or traction at all. If white people - and the majority white power structure - wants to start listening to black people's complaints when they are typed out in triplicate and presented politely, then things might be different.
posted by Frowner at 2:16 PM on August 29 [22 favorites]


this kind of thing always scares me because the guy was probably terrified

Seriously though, how could he NOT be fucking terrified to comply with this? If he moves too slow, they say he's resisting arrest. If he moves too fast, they say he's reaching for a gun.
posted by elizardbits at 2:16 PM on August 29 [47 favorites]


Yeah well, I hope this guy gets PAID. Like seriously paid. And those officers never work again. And the settlement comes out of the police pension. I can dream.
posted by mike_bling at 2:17 PM on August 29 [13 favorites]


Jesus, my childhood was sheltered as fuck, then.

I think I know where you're coming from, bitter-girl. I agree with the other responses to your post that this has always happened in this country on a large scale and we're just more aware of it now. But I also feel like in the last decade or so, as the internet etc. has made it more visible, there's also been a perverse reaction against that that makes the people perpetrating this more brazen, and their supporters more outspoken, and racists in general prouder and more loudly self-congratulatory. As if as it gets harder to cover up and be ignored by "polite society", the racists are doubling down and saying "so what?"
posted by junco at 2:18 PM on August 29 [16 favorites]


(To clarify my anecdote: the study area was in a location where no one could have seen who was making noise if they were making noise, so the noise complaint itself could not have been motivated by race, and we knew there wasn't any noise; also the security guard told us (sotto voce, since we were white) that he just wanted the guys to move along - even though they were students and it was basically public space.)
posted by Frowner at 2:18 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


this kind of thing always scares me because the guy was probably terrified

Seriously though, how could he NOT be fucking terrified to comply with this? If he moves too slow, they say he's resisting arrest. If he moves too fast, they say he's reaching for a gun.

that's what I'm saying, how could he not be terrified. I was responding to the comment that said he wasn't cooperating because he didn't answer the questions or put his hands behind his back.
posted by sweetkid at 2:18 PM on August 29


Yeah, if he is picking up his kids and is hauled away there is another financial penalty being levied against him - late pick-up fees at the daycare. Yep, getting arrested in front of your children, dragged away, have to post bond AND pay late fees because he was penalized for sitting, while waiting for his kids.
posted by jadepearl at 2:18 PM on August 29 [6 favorites]


What I think a lot of people who point out that he was mildly upset don't understand is that these are not one-off events. Many people have to deal with this sort of interaction over and over again, and asking people to maintain perfect manners and respect in the face of constant disrespect and abuse is patently ridiculous.

Was that video confrontational? Yes, because the police confronted him. He responded with incredible restraint in what reasonable people would agree is unreasonable behavior, and it is the height of privilege (even if unintentional) to still demand ever more perfect behavior.
posted by truex at 2:19 PM on August 29 [94 favorites]


Even assuming that a cop has made the wrong call and stopped someone who should not have been stopped, it is unwise (and not really commendable) to argue with that cop about the merits about whether one should have been stopped or not.

Sunil Datta, an officer with the LAPD for 17 years and a professor of homeland security at Colorado Tech University, in an op-ed for the Washington Post, said "And you don’t have to submit to an illegal stop or search. You can refuse consent to search your car or home if there’s no warrant (though a pat-down is still allowed if there is cause for suspicion). Always ask the officer whether you are under detention or are free to leave. Unless the officer has a legal basis to stop and search you, he or she must let you go. "

Of course, in the same piece, he said "if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you," so, mixed messages.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:22 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


that's what I'm saying

i know, that's why i'm agreeing with you
posted by elizardbits at 2:22 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


From the CityPages article linked above, "We asked Lollie if he thinks Bruce Schmidt, the officer who tasered him, should lose his job. "That's a tough one. I think it depends on his history," Lollie replies. "I think someone needs some racial sensitivity training, something like that."

I am amazed that after that interaction, Lollie doesn't think that the officer who tasered him should necessarily lose his job. Lollie is a much better person than I am.
posted by gladly at 2:23 PM on August 29 [67 favorites]


Oh well, I guess the two Ferguson threads were too long, probably do need a new one to talk about the racist bullshit happening in this country.

(that is not snark: I am really glad we are talking about and not ignoring this. But the depth of ugly is harder to deal with than I would have believed).
posted by emjaybee at 2:24 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


the police can order you to tell them your name, but they cannot require you to produce ID (unless you are driving a car).

it isn't even safe to be black in beverly hills. just last week, a successful, accomplished black video producer at an emmy awards party went out to feed his parking meter and was arrested and held for six hours because he "matched the description of a suspect."
posted by bruce at 2:26 PM on August 29 [14 favorites]


"This is probably an extremely unpopular view"

It's frustrating. As I'm having difficulty articulating a response, I like what truex says here:

"Was that video confrontational? Yes, because the police confronted him. He responded with incredible restraint in what reasonable people would agree is unreasonable behavior, and it is the height of privilege (even if unintentional) to still demand ever more perfect behavior."

posted by Time To Sharpen Our Knives at 2:26 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Also, I bet the fact that this dude has braids and a beard and looks kind of artsy helped make him a target.

I don't think so. If he'd been wearing an immaculate suit and perfectly groomed, they'd have behaved just the same. Just ask the legions of well-dressed black men who have gotten the same treatment.

Like this guy.

Beverly Hills PD Mistake Black TV Producer for Bank Robber and Arrest Him.
posted by emjaybee at 2:28 PM on August 29 [18 favorites]


The skyways are an interesting dimension to this. Downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul have extensive skyways so you can go from place to place out of the cold. Unfortunately that's end up putting all the white professional people in suits at the skyway level (since it has the restaurants and parking garage connections) while everyone else is down below (since street level has places to sit for free and transit connections). It's literally a two-tiered city.
posted by miyabo at 2:28 PM on August 29 [7 favorites]


Article on Charles Belk, who was arrested for six hours because he matched the "tall, bald head, black male" profile of a bank robber.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:28 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Jinx, bruce and filthy light thief.
posted by emjaybee at 2:29 PM on August 29


You've been stopped and the arguments about whether that was appropriate or not are best addressed in court, in the press, or in a complaint after the fact - not in the heat of the moment on the street.

From a prudential point of view--i.e. "how do I get through my life with the least unpleasantness"--that's absolutely correct. The path of least resistance is, obviously, compliance.

But that fact doesn't in any way at all excuse or mitigate the actions of the police officers here. The fact that it might in some sense have been "smarter" or "shrewder" for Lollie to just hand over his ID and do some "yes Ma'am, no Ma'am" shuck and jive routine doesn't in any way at all lessen the cops responsibility to know and respect his rights.
posted by yoink at 2:30 PM on August 29 [23 favorites]


I think its very much to the police's advantage that the rules about stop and search are so vague and unclear. They differ from state to state and even city to city. As an adult I am totally unclear on what rights I have if an officer stops me, and what I should say and should expect to happen as a result. Since I'm white I'm in a position of privilege, but my feeling is that people don't risk using things like the "Am I being detained? am I free to go?" because it feels like playing with fire.
posted by Joh at 2:30 PM on August 29 [11 favorites]


I'm from a white, middle-class background, etc, however I'm still terrified of the police. My response is generally to just do whatever they say and try not to get shot, regardless of rights. There's a major problem with the way police are recruited and trained in this country.

That said, I have no doubt that if I'd been in Lollie's situation and acted exactly as he did, I would not have been tased or arrested. I'm glad he shot the video, and I hope he gets a huge stack of cash from this. It'd also be nice if the officers involved faced some kind of disciplinary action, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
At one point, the officers believed he might either run or fight with them. It was then that officers took steps to take him into custody.
I think that says it all. They responded to the call and found he wasn't doing anything wrong, so they had to arrest him before he could get away.
posted by heathkit at 2:31 PM on August 29 [13 favorites]


I've never looked into this: what is the protocol for bringing suit in this sort of situation ? Would he sue the police department? Could he sue the officers involved directly?
posted by Time To Sharpen Our Knives at 2:34 PM on August 29


What I'm gathering from the news article is that he was sitting on private property somehow, and a security guard told him to leave. If it was in fact private property, and he had in fact been told by an owner or their representative to leave, and if he was still sitting there when the police arrived, then they did in fact have a legal reason to ID him.

Police training also really stresses the importance of IDing everyone you make contact with (I would hope they IDed the security guard and put them in their report) and checking for warrants (although not on the security guard, callers generally don't get checked).

The fact that he refused to provide ID presumably made them suspect that he had a warrant.

Of course, that's a long chain of "if" statements about the initial stop, and the first officer didn't articulate that at all if it was the case ("that's what police do"). I wonder if she'd articulated better if that would have gone better? I dunno.

And yeah, of course it would have gone smoother if he'd provided ID, but having the police check for warrants on you in the subway isn't fun even when you don't have any.

I think SPPD just recently graduated an academy class. I hope they talked about this incident.
posted by kavasa at 2:34 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


I don't understand how police are supposed to deal with a called-in report, a suspect who is walking away and denying identification, and claiming in his defense that he is being detained for being black.

When I (white) have called police, typically the first thing they do is ask what the person is doing. So if someone who worked there called police, the cops should have gone to that person and said "What's he doing?" and when they replied "He's sitting there." the cops should have said "Sitting is not against the law. There's no reason for us to do anything about that." and gone back to their other cop business. This guy should never even have known that some racist ass had called the cops on him in the first place.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 2:35 PM on August 29 [47 favorites]


I don't think so. If he'd been wearing an immaculate suit and perfectly groomed, they'd have behaved just the same. Just ask the legions of well-dressed black men who have gotten the same treatment.

Oh, I'm not saying that the cops only single out black men who don't look conservative/formally dressed - it's just been my experience (I've done a little bit of activism about police brutality) that when cops are looking to hassle a black man, they do sometimes read any kind of stylish clothes or hair as a signifier of being a discipline case. I've noticed cops to do this on a variety of valences - people who are not gender-conforming, women who look too butch, people of color who look like they are activists or artists or just like to dress up.

If anything, I would expect that being a black guy wearing a suit would probably piss off a lot of cops too, because you must think pretty well of yourself and be successful if you have a nice suit, right?
posted by Frowner at 2:35 PM on August 29 [7 favorites]


I've seen a fair amount of dashboard camera footage from Minnesota cops and I'm not surprised by this incident. We do lots of things right here, but we do have a real problem with the police. They are quick to tazer or beat people of color.
posted by Area Man at 2:35 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Because I have the maturity of a 14-year-old, I want to

One of the things I'm well aware of is that my white girl privilege allows me to engage in all sorts of antagonistic fuckery with cops without fear of retribution.

My dealings with the police involve me mostly receiving paternalistic, patronizing comments about where I live or what I'm wearing or where I'm walking around so late at night, which pisses me off to no end, and then there's the actually really bad shit that happens, like this, which pisses me off even more, so yeah.

Rarely do I pass up an opportunity to stick my nose into the cops' business. If I see a police officer violating some minor law (something that would get a normal person in trouble, like blowing through a stop sign or turning right on red in a no right on red zone or fucking littering in my neighborhood, you fucking asshats) I absolutely call them out on it. If I see them ticketing a car that doesn't appear to have any violations, I will stop angrily ask them why. If I see them arresting a person of color, I will stand very close and watch.

I involve myself all the time in ways that would have huge repercussions for someone less white and less cute than me just because I can. The thing is, I know I'm not going to get arrested. I just won't. (Or, in the vanishingly small chance that some of my smart-aleckness does catch up with me, I have the resources that it's not going to matter much.)

Abuses of power really chafe me so I try to stand up for myself and I try to stand up for others when I can. If I can use my magical won't get arrested powers to reduce a cop being a dick by 0.01% I will.

I would love to hear the results of your phone call.
posted by phunniemee at 2:35 PM on August 29 [51 favorites]


knives, I don't know SPPD's policy personally, but their contract is probably worded such that as long as they're within policy, they're covered by the city. It seems likely that they were within policy, so no, they can't be sued directly, and the city's attorneys will defend against any suits that are filed.
posted by kavasa at 2:36 PM on August 29


kavasa: "The fact that he refused to provide ID presumably made them suspect that he had a warrant."

This is a terrible line of thinking, though.
posted by boo_radley at 2:37 PM on August 29 [12 favorites]


Becoming a Danish police officer is a three year long process consisting of both formal education and field training. How involved is the USian system for training police officers?
posted by bouvin at 2:37 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


sweetkid: We don't even know from the video if he *wasn't* trying to put his hands behind his back, or what the hell was going on, especially since I've seen a bunch of stuff about cops going "stop resisting" while the person was 100% not resisting

Yep. Once again, from Wesley Lowery's (Washington Post reporter) account of his arrest in the McDonald's in Ferguson:

“My hands are behind my back,” I said. “I’m not resisting. I’m not resisting.” At which point one officer said: “You’re resisting. Stop resisting.”
posted by FrauMaschine at 2:38 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


Surely there's some sort of fund that can be set up to pay for Lollie and people like him to get top notch legal representation? As these stories get (hopefully) more and more press in the coming months/years I hope that there's some firm out there who will take on the abuses-of-power-against-people-of-color fight.

I would be happy to throw money at the legal team willing to take these fuckers on.
posted by phunniemee at 2:38 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


This is probably an extremely unpopular view, but I have to say that I was surprised by how uncooperative he seemed to be with the police.

People are not required to be cooperative with police. If you are actually being placed under arrest, legally, sure. Otherwise, no, and cops need to have that tattooed on their foreheads.

Face it, we aren't going to make the police less racist, we just aren't.

Perhaps we cannot make individual officers less racist. But we can make police forces less racist by terminating, including revocation of pension, cops who pull this racist bullshit. Send them to jail as appropriate (which IMHO it would be in this case). Addition by subtraction.

It can be done.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:39 PM on August 29 [34 favorites]


This makes me think of the transgender FPP from earlier today. People believe a man when he says he facts, but they don't believe a woman without extensive proof. Likewise, if we compare this guy to gun-toting whites who stand up for their rights and are ultimately treated fairly by the police, perhaps one could say that people believe a white man when he says he has rights, but they don't believe a black man.
posted by clawsoon at 2:40 PM on August 29 [17 favorites]


"How involved in the USian system for training police officers?"

I can't possibly conceive of a non-snarky response at this moment.

But that being said, this is a ridiculously large country; a given department's criteria will change dramatically from the state, county or city it is located.
posted by Time To Sharpen Our Knives at 2:40 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Oh, and fucking mandatory cameras to be carried by all cops at all times, always on. If you turn yours off, you are no longer a cop, immediately.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:40 PM on August 29 [34 favorites]


Goddamn that video was terrifying.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 2:41 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Cop interactions with racial minorities are basically the same as the old Jim Crow voter registration tests. No matter what answer you give, you will always be wrong, and there is no amount of studying or preparation or memorization that will ever make you right.
posted by elizardbits at 2:41 PM on August 29 [73 favorites]


For what it's worth, I bought a house years ago and had lived in it for about six months when the several police came by one day looking for a man who, it turned out, had lived in the house years before. I told them I just bought the house and knew nothing about him, but gave them the name of the real estate company I bought it from and suggested they check with the people there. Okay - nothing more.

Until about six months later when I was on my way to work and opened the front door to find my yard full of police, some squatted down behind shrubs, some at the edge of the house, and it turned out there were a bunch of them in the back yard and side yards too - all obviously on alert, hands on guns, etc. I was a bit stunned and then one of the two officers on the sidewalk in front of me told me that they'd received a call about an emergency at my house ...

I said, nope, no emergency here. The officer stepped back and looked up at the roof over the porch where the house number was and said, again, an emergency at XXXX W XXXXXX ST - what a bunch of BS. She didn't even know the house number they were supposedly lookiing for for the emergency until she read it off the front of the house. I repeated NO - no one from here called for help. And then she said they'd received the call from Mr. X - the same man they'd been trying to locate earlier.

I was furious. My daughter and little granddaughter were watching this whole thing, as was everyone on the street - my new neighbors - and this was the biggest lie imagineable. That was one of the early awakenings on my behalf about the fact that police could lie and be downright scary when you'd done absolutely nothing wrong. But it took awhile for that to set in - in the meantime I exploded all over them, told them to get the hell out of my yard, that they knew that no one called for help, etc. I told them that if they'd asked - the first time or this time - I'd have let them go through the house looking for evidence that I was hiding this man - they could even bring shovels and dig up the crawl space looking for his bones if they wanted to, but now that they'd approached my home and family like we were escaped felons, they could get a damn warrant if they wanted to search my property. I walked them backward out of the yard and they went away.

I went back in the house and cooled down a bit and got the kids settled down, then went to work. On the way to work, I was followed by a police car - all the way to the hospital where I worked. That's when the reality began to make my skin crawl - the reality that you can't win against police and you're a fool to let your anger show.

Now I'm as white as the driven snow and this incident here in Spokane was about 20 years ago. I know that if the same thing happened today, even though I'm white, I'd probably be hurt or killed for showing aggression toward the police even when they were wrong, and I'm absolutely positive that if I were black and did the same thing, I'd be shot and killed on the spot.

I'm wondering if there's a website with a US map marked with incidents of police brutality in the last year or so. Guess I'll try to Google it.

But one more thing - now that I'm old and my kids are grown and gone, so it's easier for me to say now: In Poland in the late 30s people were approached by the law in the same way and their rights as citizens were worthless. We all know where that went, but I think the part we don't think of is the role of apathy in the success of that campaign to rid the world of Poles, Jewish or not. There were those who saw it coming, but the vast majority were shocked witless to think it applied to THEM and they were under arrest and their property confiscated for no reason at all.

And apathy is our middle name, isn't it?
posted by aryma at 2:41 PM on August 29 [153 favorites]


Rarely do I pass up an opportunity to stick my nose into the cops' business. If I see a police officer violating some minor law (something that would get a normal person in trouble, like blowing through a stop sign or turning right on red in a no right on red zone or fucking littering in my neighborhood, you fucking asshats) I absolutely call them out on it. If I see them ticketing a car that doesn't appear to have any violations, I will stop angrily ask them why. If I see them arresting a person of color, I will stand very close and watch.

Do you ever worry that you will make things worse? I sometimes stop and watch and/or film cops when they are hassling a kid or a random person, and I have noticed on two occasions that they let the person go, but I don't always do this because I worry that it will be experienced as humiliating to the person being arrested, or that they'll think that I am just staring because I think they deserve what they're getting, or that the cops will take it out on them later. The times that I have stopped, it's been when I have been very confident that the whole thing was just bullshit...but I'm sure that a lot of other times it has also been bullshit, though it seemed to be higher-level bullshit (people sitting in the squad car, etc.)

Mostly, I just hate interacting with cops because it's nearly always in my own neighborhood and I'm afraid that I'll put my neighbors in danger somehow. Like, there was a guy who was being chased by some very scary people last winter, and he was in our house and asked us to call the cops, which we did, but it was just a really scary thing when they actually came. On the one hand, I was scared that the people who were chasing the guy were going to, like, pursue him into our house and kill us all (because they were super fucking scary - I surmise that this was some kind of drug gang situation). On the other, I was scared that the cops were going to just shoot or beat the dude when he came out of our house. I went out on the porch first and emphasized that this gentleman had asked us to call the cops, but it was just not a very fun evening all around.
posted by Frowner at 2:42 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


I would "love" to see someone try to defend this.

TEH GUNSHOTS WERE In THE FROnT HE GRABBEd FRO COPSGUN SELFDEFENCE HE WAs HI PCP GOOfBALLS HERION RoBBED A CORNER STORe FUD FUD FUD
posted by JHarris at 2:44 PM on August 29 [13 favorites]


Becoming a Danish police officer is a three year long process consisting of both formal education and field training. How involved is the USian system for training police officers?

In St. Paul, MN, officers need a 2-4 college degree with certain specific coursework in law enforcement. They then train at the city's police academy for 12 weeks. After that, they train in the field under the supervision of another officer. They are on probation for the first year.
posted by Area Man at 2:44 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


To me it seems that there are several layers to what happened. If a cop stops you on private property you do need to identify yourself by giving a name however you are not required to show ID. Lollie did not seem to have even identified himself by name to the police.

That being said, the police did not seem to have any reason to approach him in the first place. The female officer was actually not doing such a bad job of handling it but when the other cop came in to the picture he escalated the issue.

The youtube comments bring up the point that Lollie was the first person to mention race in the situation. That is true and maybe he wasn't approached because he was black but because the cops just didn't like his look or something. They obviously didn't have a reason for approaching him because none of them could articulate the reason why. That's never a good sign from a cop. That means that they're either messing with you or are just following blind orders for no reason but no superior officer is supposed to legally just say "arrestthat guy" and not give a reason.

Also, I'm surprised how many people on here are acting like "just be white" is a way of not getting hassled by cops. That's a very divisive view point. It's not that white people aren't hassled by the police and don't experience abuse of power. It just happens to a lesser degree.

I've got a few more things to say but I have to go now. However I'd like to point out that there are also good cops but most of the cops that I've dealt with have a scary mentality where they don't really seem to understand how their actions can affect a person for the rest of their life. To a lot of cops it just seems like it's just a job. It's also scary to hear the justifications for the light corruption that happens. "We take care of our own." The cops who do become aware of this mentality and try to expose it end up in mental institutions. It's fucking weird and surreal.
posted by I-baLL at 2:47 PM on August 29 [7 favorites]


Wow, I was just there a month ago for a wedding at a hotel connected to the Skyways, and as a stranger to the Twin Cities and as a bridesmaid with loads of spare time, I spent a number of hours loitering, wandering around at weird hours after everything was closed, accidentally running into locked doors, etc.* Number of police officers who talked to me: 0. Chances that this is because I am a white lady: rapidly rising! What a grotesque escalation. Those things seemed like weirdly confusing hamster tunnels anyway**, heaven forbid people actually use them.

*I'm pretty sure I had an ID on me? Possibly not though. Would not have occurred to me to think about it.

**sorry St. Paul people I'm sure they're really useful in the winter, I was just very confused on the way to Walgreens
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:47 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


Until about six months later when I was on my way to work and opened the front door to find my yard full of police, some squatted down behind shrubs, some at the edge of the house, and it turned out there were a bunch of them in the back yard and side yards too - all obviously on alert, hands on guns, etc. I was a bit stunned and then one of the two officers on the sidewalk in front of me told me that they'd received a call about an emergency at my house ...

The cops came to my house looking for someone while I was at work - someone who had never ever lived there, which I knew since I knew the people who had been there for the twenty-odd years before we moved in. They detained my guest, who was staying with me in the last month or so of her pregnancy and who had just been leaving for the hospital to give birth. Fortunately, they believed me on the phone when I said I was the homeowner - they wanted me to leave work and come show them around the place, but they didn't have a warrant and so I told them I couldn't leave work. But it was so blatantly the fact that I am white and sound white and college-educated on the phone that did the trick.
posted by Frowner at 2:47 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Burst into tears when he started saying "my kids, I have to get my kids" and had to stop watching/listening. I can't freaking imagine.
I didn't see any links to a fundraiser for legal fees or anything?
If there aren't any I think I might actually be able to find out if there is one on Tuesday.
posted by Bacon Bit at 2:48 PM on August 29 [8 favorites]


Do you ever worry that you will make things worse?

I have shouted "YOU ARE ABOUT TO BREAK HIS WRIST STOP STOP HIS WRIST IS BENDING BACK" at an officer cramming someone very poorly cuffed into a car and it resulted in the person being arrested calming down considerably (PERHAPS OH IDK BECAUSE HIS FUCKING WRIST WASN'T ALMOST BEING BROKEN) and being re-cuffed and more gently ushered into the back of the car, so no, no I don't worry. Maybe I should but so far being worried that I'll make things worse has not crossed my mind.
posted by phunniemee at 2:48 PM on August 29 [18 favorites]


This is probably an extremely unpopular view, but I have to say that I was surprised by how uncooperative he seemed to be with the police. I don't argue at all that there was any legitimate reason to stop or question this person, but when he refuses to answer the questions or put his hands behind his back when requested, it's almost guaranteed that the police are going to escalate.

And that's just fascism.

Also won't necessarily save you from mistreatment. Stop thinking that there are magic rituals or spells that you can do to not make yourself the victim of police brutality (especially if, you know, you're not white). There's nothing you can do or say that will let you off if a cop decides he doesn't want you to.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:49 PM on August 29 [62 favorites]


That is true and maybe he wasn't approached because he was black but because the cops just didn't like his look or something.

And maybe pigs do an annual flypast of that skyway.

Stop thinking this isn't racism in action, it always is. Stop trying to nitpick things the victim did wrong; you wouldn't do that if somebody got beat up, why do it if they got beat up by thugs in blue?
posted by MartinWisse at 2:51 PM on August 29 [11 favorites]


This isn't the country I grew up in anymore.

Funny, it's the one *I* grew up in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:52 PM on August 29 [72 favorites]


Apparently smartphones will police the police.
posted by furtive at 2:52 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


boo, sort of? One of the officers has since retired, and neither of the others looked especially young. Part of that line of thinking is caused by the number of times it's turned out to be true.

Becoming a Danish police officer is a three year long process consisting of both formal education and field training. How involved is the USian system for training police officers?

It varies from state to state. In Minnesota, you're required to get at least a 2 year degree, then pass a "skills" program before you can take the state exam. Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and the State Patrol then have academies in addition to those requirements, but most of the smaller local departments take applicants straight from skills and put them into FTO. FTO is field training, and varies from department to department as well, but 5-6 months is the average.

People are not required to be cooperative with police. If you are actually being placed under arrest, legally, sure. Otherwise, no, and cops need to have that tattooed on their foreheads.

This is not really true. All that's required for a weapons patdown, for example, is reasonable suspicion.

In the case of this incident, I think the police argument is that they witnessed a crime (trespassing) and are thus legally able to require him to provide ID.

I-ball is correct in that a form of ID you're allowed to provide is a verbal statement of name and date of birth, it doesn't have to be photo ID.

jetlagaddict, keep in mind that they were called there by a security guard that dialed 911. They didn't just see him and decide to talk to him. Had a security guard called 911 on you, they'd've talked to you too.
posted by kavasa at 2:53 PM on August 29


I'm a little surprised that the "walking and talking, I'm really busy and I don't have to show you my ID" Lollie does is characterized as "amazingly calm" by people in this thread. After he's been choked and tased, Lollie confesses to having marijuana on him, and if that's illegal in Minnesota, perhaps that should be calculated in his "fear" of the situation and bad on him for even introducing that possibility while picking up his kids. In a totally different context, that's just fucked up.

I think my point is the police stop is still unjust, unreasonable and terrifyingly sad, but perhaps he's really not that calm and that's a human factor. A police officer making a read on the field is not doing his or her job by letting a suspect walk away and deny answering a few simple questions. Anyway, fuck me. I'm not dying on this hill.
posted by phaedon at 2:55 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


maybe he wasn't approached because he was black but because the cops just didn't like his look or something.

Yes. They didn't like his look. You know, that skin that doesn't look white.

That is racism, and apologias for racist cops make me want to fucking vomit.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:56 PM on August 29 [13 favorites]


jetlagaddict, keep in mind that they were called there by a security guard that dialed 911. They didn't just see him and decide to talk to him. Had a security guard called 911 on you, they'd've talked to you too.

Yes, I already understood that. My point was that even though I was there for a longer period of time and engaged in the same behavior (i.e. sitting on things, which seems to be his only action) absolutely no one cared. Gosh, wonder why.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:57 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


How involved is the USian system for training police officers?

There is no American system for training police, it varies from state to state.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:58 PM on August 29 [8 favorites]


keep in mind that they were called there by a security guard that dialed 911

I don't know why anyone would believe this actually happened, tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 2:59 PM on August 29 [17 favorites]


RE: 'not the country I grew up in anymore'

As many have said before: it is, in fact, the same country we grew up in. Rapidly advancing telecommunications technology has allowed us to see more and hear more about this crap from our homes, much quicker too.

Before, we could only learn about these events through what was delivered on a film reel on a truck, or what was delivered/communicated to a radio station, or what person by chance had a short trip to a telephone to make a report without retribution.

Before, there were many more variables involved in getting stories like this broadcast. Now, it's merely whether or not you have a smart phone, which bare bones ones are getting cheaper every day.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 2:59 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


This isn't the country I grew up in anymore.

It's never been the country you grew up in.
posted by notreally at 3:00 PM on August 29 [8 favorites]


And fucking seriously, actually calling 911 to report a black person for being black in your vicinity should rightfully be classified as a hate crime.
posted by elizardbits at 3:01 PM on August 29 [63 favorites]


There is no American system for training police, it varies from state to state.

And by federal department, and other divisions. Although an extreme example, here's a list of law enforcement agencies in D.C.
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:01 PM on August 29


Just a question, but in general is the interior of an office building considered to be public or private space?
posted by Nevin at 3:02 PM on August 29


Considering how shitty the officers were to me, my father, and my friend in distress when we called for paramedics because she was having a seizure, I'm not surprised to (again) discover cops being shitty to POCs.

The three of us are about as white as you can get, were dressed up nicely, and in a nice car at an expensive restaurant - basically, our privilege was on display yet my father nearly got arrested after his anger boiled over because they treated my friend so poorly* while preventing timely treatment (she almost died, the police and one paramedic got chewed out at the hospital in front of us.) My father cried when he learned that neither my friend or I considered how we were treated to be unusual when first responders are called for seizure events. My friend has witnessed it when trying to get help for me and I've been through it so many times I beg people to NOT call 911 unless I don't come out of a seizure.

If it's so easy for police to treat someone going through a medical crisis as a hardened criminal, it's not a surprise that harassment of POCs is just a day at work for many of them.

*I can't even get into what they did over the three hours we waited for her to be transported, because I'll start crying again and won't be able to see to type. Slamming her down to the pavement and pinning her down while threatening arrest while she's seizing wasn't even the worst of it.
posted by _paegan_ at 3:03 PM on August 29 [31 favorites]




jetlagaddict, story from the news article is that he was sitting on private property and refused to leave when asked to do so. So if you had sat on private property, and a security guard asked you to leave, and you refused to do so, you'd probably get called on.

Now - I wasn't there, I'm just pulling this from the linked news article. Maybe it wasn't actually private property or something, I have no way of knowing. But the most likely explanation is that those things are in fact true.

I think it's likely that his appearance was a factor in how things proceeded. I also wish that, if my read of the situation is correct, the first cop had articulated better. But that's not what happened.

I don't know why anyone would believe this actually happened, tbh.

Because 911 call centers retain recordings of their calls, and such recordings will inevitably be subpeonaed in any criminal case and/or civil proceedings. To lie about this would be to tell a lie that will inevitably be discovered, and getting caught in a lie is about the most guaranteed way possible to get fired. So believing it makes infinitely more sense than not believing it, until proven otherwise.

Nevin - the skyways in the twin cities are a weird melding of both. Google "twin cities skyways" for pictures.
posted by kavasa at 3:06 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


This isn't the country I grew up in anymore.

That's true.

Now you can sue for this kind of thing.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:06 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


The St. Paul skyway system is itself PUBLICLY OWNED. This is in contrast to the Minneapolis skyway system, which is privately owned. The public ownership makes it even more difficult to discern any ability of a private security guard to wave off any individual using a part of the skyway system in St. Paul. The reports seem vague as to whether the man was clearly outside of the skyway system itself, which is very hard to determine in areas where it broadens from a hallway-like structure to something that is a blend, like a food court or lobby-like area. The lack of signage would make the problem more acute.

However, all of this is unimportant. What happened here is that the guy moved on after sitting for 10 minutes where, at most, he was uninvited. The cops should have used discretion and never should have pushed to arrest the man. Simply not obeying their command should NEVER be a reason to arrest someone.

This is why we should mandate wearable cameras on all police.
posted by Muddler at 3:07 PM on August 29 [27 favorites]


what? how... why the fuck would cops a) show up when paramedics were called to a non-criminal situation, and b) arrest someone having a seizure?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:08 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


". But the most likely explanation is that those things are in fact true."

Says who? You? You can prove this how?
posted by wuwei at 3:09 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Lollie does is characterized as "amazingly calm" by people in this thread.

This is a relative characterization. He's not as placid as a meditating monk, and the affect of the discussion is tense, maybe as much as a tense conversation as you might see in a workplace or even between two friends in a genuine argument. But given what's at stake here -- his ability to pick up his kids (not to mention his ability to just be in a public space without being under suspicion because of his race/appearance) -- I think it's relatively accurate to call him calm.

I suppose relative to complete docility and compliance, he's also relatively agitated. That's a fair observation, though I wouldn't agree that should be an expected standard during police engagement under questionable pretenses.

Lollie confesses to having marijuana on him... and bad on him for even introducing that possibility while picking up his kids.

I don't smoke weed and maybe never will, and I'm not sure about complete legalization, but I'm thinking the bad is on *us* for making possession of some personal amount of it a matter of concern bigger than a possible citation, certainly if it involves a loss of someone's ability to sit somewhere waiting for their kids and then pick up them up.
posted by weston at 3:10 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


Stop resisting! Stop trying to take my gun!

Well that's just fucking unbelievable.
posted by phaedon at 3:11 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Says who? You? You can prove this how?

Read the paragraph that preceded that sentence. Which part do you think I was wrong about?

Muddler, I don't think body cameras would make much difference here.

If my read of the situation is correct, they had a legal basis to ID him, so bodycams would show that (it's the skyway system, so there's probably security camera footage of the entire thing, although not necessarily).
posted by kavasa at 3:11 PM on August 29


weston, unless he had a LOT of pot on him, it is a small (non-criminal!) citation in MN. People don't necessarily know that, though.
posted by kavasa at 3:14 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


If my read of the situation is correct, they had a legal basis to ID him

How does that square with the dismissal of the charges?
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:15 PM on August 29 [9 favorites]


keep in mind that they were called there by a security guard that dialed 911

Who called to report Mr. Lollie's failure to comply with his personal "whites only" seating policy, which the police cheerfully enforced.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:15 PM on August 29 [22 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering - I often wonder that myself, about why police would show up when paramedics are called. Yet, every time 911 has been called to assist me, police have also shown up. And it frightens me, since the local PD has a long history of tasing epileptics while they're in a seizure.

The officer who threatened her outright stated that he didn't believe (despite the epilepsy bracelet) that she was having a seizure... he insisted she was on drugs and was resisting arrest.
posted by _paegan_ at 3:16 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


Becoming a Danish police officer is a three year long process consisting of both formal education and field training. How involved is the USian system for training police officers?

As others have pointed out, this varies from state to state (among other jurisdictions).

That said, federal courts have held that it's legal for police forces to bar applicants who score too high on intelligence tests.
posted by scody at 3:16 PM on August 29 [12 favorites]


do cops ever lie on the witness stand? you bet your ass they do. in the early 1990s, i was briefly (and falsely) convicted of resisting arrest and assaulting a deputy sheriff with a flashlight. he lied like a dirty rug on the stand. i identified the three or so most appealable anomalies in the trial sequence and filed an appeal, not because i thought it would win, but because i knew that the california bar wouldn't approve of that and i wanted a soft landing instead of a crash landing. i wrote the brief and argued the appeal pro se.

to my absolute astonishment, the appeal won. the DA was going to retry, but dropped the case when i showed up with one of the baddest lawyers in town. i sustained significant financial damage from this episode, but i also have two unique laurels. if you're gonna be wrongfully convicted of something, this is the best possible something on account of the awesome street cred; the people who know this story but don't believe me are polite and respectful in their interactions with me, because they don't want to get hit with a flashlight, and winning a criminal appeal pro se is rare. i had negotiated a six-month stayed suspension with the state bar prosecutor, and there was the stipulation and return envelope on my desk when the appellate opinion arrived, so i mailed him that instead.

my dad was disappointed to hear this because he thought "i needed to learn a lesson." i'll be joining him down there in the hot place in a couple decades, but my allotment of burning coals to stand on will be larger than his commensurate with my status.
posted by bruce at 3:17 PM on August 29 [21 favorites]


How does that square with the dismissal of the charges?

What the police on the street can legally do doesn't necessarily affect what the prosecutor elects to charge. Depending on the crime and the jurisdiction, charging rates for most crimes are in the 5-30% range. Heck, even investigators also decline further investigation patrol reports every day. There's a whole range of reasons why a cop could do 100% legal stuff that never results in a charge.
posted by kavasa at 3:19 PM on August 29


On the issue of cops showing up when you call for a medical emergency -

This is a Minneapolis police story. I witnessed an event where a man (white, middle aged, nothing distinguishing if it matters) was at a party with others of a similar age and background had a serious health issue. If anything, a small diverse group of professionals at a quiet, simple event that happened to be in a loft/office in a popular area. The man was sitting and started to look pale. Then he got more pale. We thought maybe we didn't notice he had too much to drink, but it was something more. We became alarmed. In the course of about 3 minutes, it became clear we should call 911 and we did.

While waiting for the paramedics, breathing stopped. We performed CPR. He came back, unconscious, but breathing. We were very careful to lay him down in the proper, safe method to maximize blood flow to core areas and increase his survival chances.

While waiting for the paramedics, cops showed up. They were never called, they were not invited, they just showed up first. They came in, and weren't stopped thinking they were there to help, and started yelling at the man, questioning him. When he was unresponsive, THEY YANKED HIM OFF THE FLOOR BY ONE ARM AND SHOOK HIM, YELLING. Not to help, but questioning him as to drugs and alcohol. We were stunned. We said what we could to calm the situation down, but they took the situation out of our hands.

When the paramedics arrived, they forced the cops to allow them to take over. The man survived, and it appeared from the paramedics that something strange had happened, causing a rapid blood pressure drop. The cops followed to the hospital, only concerned about a possible arrest or other charge.

I cannot look at the police the same again, I will forever be afraid to call 911, and our society needs to understand that these are serious problems.
posted by Muddler at 3:21 PM on August 29 [124 favorites]


That is really bad. I had to stop it less than 2 minutes in and now I have tears in my eyes.
posted by bq at 3:22 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


it is. the video and especially the audio is really affecting.
posted by sweetkid at 3:23 PM on August 29


bq: I'm at 1:56 and I think I am done.
posted by Cosine at 3:24 PM on August 29


What the police on the street can legally do doesn't necessarily affect what the prosecutor elects to charge. Depending on the crime and the jurisdiction, charging rates for most crimes are in the 5-30% range.

Well sure, but they did charge. Charges were later dropped - according to Lollie, after he brought eyewitnesses showing that he was telling the truth. Declining to go forward is one thing, but in my understanding once the charges are brought, they don't get dropped as easily.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:25 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


This is probably an extremely unpopular view, but I have to say that I was surprised by how uncooperative he seemed to be with the police. I don't argue at all that there was any legitimate reason to stop or question this person, but when he refuses to answer the questions or put his hands behind his back when requested, it's almost guaranteed that the police are going to escalate.

Doing anything to avoid police escalation is like doing anything to avoid a toddler screaming: at some point, the police and the toddlers are going to figure out what's up and exploit it. We've already reached that level with police, so while it's probably in one's own personal interest to do everything an officer orders, it's definitely in ALL of our best interests that we applaud people brave enough to tell police in no certain terms "Sorry, but I'm not going to make it easy for you to abuse my rights".
posted by 23skidoo at 3:28 PM on August 29 [43 favorites]


It's like, cops see a black man and pow, they're living a private fanfic where they're dealing with the most dangerous hardened criminal that ever lived.
posted by fleacircus at 3:30 PM on August 29 [21 favorites]


Lemurrhea, oh ok thanks, I guess I was concentrating on the "how did this stop come together and what was their thinking" aspect.

I'm honestly not sure if it's actually harder to drop charges? I'm not a city attorney or anything.

Regardless, if I've understood the situation correctly, I still think they probably had a legal right to ID him. That doesn't mean they handled that decision in the ideal fashion, but it is relevant to the discussion.
posted by kavasa at 3:33 PM on August 29


I was surprised by how uncooperative he seemed to be with the police.

Do you have a link to this video, because it sure as hell isn't in the one linked here.
posted by Cosine at 3:33 PM on August 29 [6 favorites]


kavasa, nothing in that article indicates that the Skyway is most likely private property. And indeed why should we take it to be the "most likely" case, article aside? Because YOU SAY SO?

Oh and Cosine, the man was uncooperative because he failed to get down on his knees and worship Our Heroes the moment that one of them demanded he identify himself. Right kavasa?
posted by wuwei at 3:39 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]




I still think they probably had a legal right to ID him

On what basis? I don't even think Minnesota has a stop and identify law.
posted by Cosine at 3:45 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


kavasa, they may (unlikely) have had the right to arrest him, but they did not have the right to order him to produce ID. there's a little something called the fifth amendment. the supreme court has ruled that it's ok to ask him his name, and arrest him if he refuses to tell, but he is under no obligation to show them ID.
posted by bruce at 3:45 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


They are currently covering this story on MSNBC: Texas Mom and 4 Children Held at Gunpoint by Police There's a video there, as well, and the horrifying moment when, after the mom has been handcuffed (for nothing), the six year old child gets out of the car to see what's going on, and automatically has their hands up.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:49 PM on August 29 [9 favorites]


Private or public, why does it matter? Even if it's private it is an easement, a section of the mall open to the public. If the only probable cause you have for suspecting a member of that public is up to no good and want to deny him access is because of his skin color, that's discrimination under the law, just like you can't refuse someone service at a lunch counter because of their race even if you own the fucking lunch counter. You provide public facilities, you are not allowed to discriminate based on race.

My opinion of cops could not have been lower than it already was after, I don't know, Abner Louima? I've lost track. I now assume they are racists unless proven otherwise. A few bad apples, floating in a whole barrel of shit.
posted by spitbull at 3:52 PM on August 29 [16 favorites]


Just to make it clear how much of a fucking joke this "private property" claim is, MPR's Bob Collins posted a photo of the hallway in question. It is in no way internal to the bank (I've walked down that hallway) and is explicitly included by St Paul city ordinance as a public access easement:
Pedestrian skyway system means any system of providing for pedestrian traffic circulation, mechanical or otherwise elevated above ground, within and without the public rights-of-way, and through or above private property and buildings, and includes overpasses, bridges, passageways, walkways, concourses, hallways, corridors, arcades, courts, plazas, malls, elevators, escalators, heated canopies and access and all fixtures, furniture, signs, equipment, facilities, services and appurtenances.
And then later goes on to make it clear that, "All parts of the skyway system shall be open to the public every day between the hours of 12:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. and between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m."

This is the equivalent of getting hassled, tased and arrested for sitting on a sidewalk bench outside the bank. What does it matter that the sidewalk just happens to be indoors because winters in MN suck? Lily White me, even on my scraggliest of days, wouldn't even merit a passing glance by security or the cops. But a young black man? Oh no we can't have that.

And oh, as a St Paul tax payer I'm glad Lollie is suing the city. If the most I can contribute to righting this wrong is some small portion of my tax dollar, so be it.

@Frowner -- I'll see you at the protest.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:58 PM on August 29 [56 favorites]


wuwei, second paragraph:
Chris Lollie, 28, said he was sitting on a chair in a downtown skyway Jan. 31 when a security guard told him it was a private area and he couldn't be there. No signs were posted saying it was private, Lollie said. The guard called police.
Attacking straw man arguments doesn't do anyone any favors. I think it seems likely that their demand for ID was legal. Does that mean they handled things perfectly? No. Does that mean that, if you're going to talk about police action, you may want to know that? Like maybe you should actually know the legalities if you're going to talk about what police are doing? Acknowledging its legality (or potential legality) doesn't mean you have to like it, but it does mean that you have to (for example) talk to your state legislators about the law.

Cosine, bruce, read my comments again. I've already addressed both of those. Again, maybe you think the law needs changed! Then you should probably be aware of that.

My speculation is, again, that their justification came from the trespassing statute, specifically:
(3) trespasses on the premises of another and, without claim of right, refuses to depart from the premises on demand of the lawful possessor
Assuming "lawful possessor" extends to authorized security guards, then that's the misdemeanor in question. That statute can apply to any private property, btw, so long as you have a reason to ask people to leave. Like you can ask someone to leave your bar for being belligerent, or because it's past closing time, but not because they're black*. The article doesn't outline the grounds on which the guard asked the guy to leave, so I have no idea if they were bad grounds. If they were, that changes things, but that hasn't come up in any of the coverage.

*bars like to use dress codes as a way to get around this.
posted by kavasa at 3:59 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


fuckin' LOL. Sinclair applies.

maybe you should actually know the legalities if you're going to talk about what police are doing

Couldn't agree more! "The City constructed the skyway bridges between 1973 and 2001, and purchased pedestrian right-of-way easements from the building owners for interior linkages." [PDF]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:01 PM on August 29 [6 favorites]


kavasa: Assuming "lawful possessor" extends to authorized security guards, then that's the misdemeanor in question. That statute can apply to any private property, btw, so long as you have a reason to ask people to leave.

I do not believe that private entities can trespass someone from a public space. The St Paul skyway system is explicitly defined as a public space.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:03 PM on August 29 [13 favorites]


That area sure as he'll looks open to the public. Moreover, even if it wasn't for some technical reason, there is sure a strong claim of right.
posted by Area Man at 4:05 PM on August 29


Attacking straw man arguments doesn't do anyone any favors. I think it seems likely that their demand for ID was legal.

Let's be perfectly clear: He was not on private property. He was on public property. The police cannot compel you to show them ID with absolutely no cause, and in this case they had no cause because all he was doing was sitting in a public place in a perfectly legal way. The police claiming that he was not in a public place are lying to try to cover for the fact that they attempted to do one illegal thing (harass a man entirely due to his skin color with no legal reason to do so) that turned into another illegal thing (a horrific public assault, again due entirely to the skin color of the victim). Their demand for ID was not legal.
posted by IAmUnaware at 4:06 PM on August 29 [43 favorites]


kavasa: Do you not realize that by your logic the police could demand your ID in any situation by making up any damn thing they please?

Do you not realize that no white person would EVER have this happen?

Look at the picture nathan linked, read the link the man of twists linked, think about this.
posted by Cosine at 4:06 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


It's a sad fucking day in a sad fucking country when someone gets to the end of that horrific video and is, as I was, actually relieved -- because they didn't just shoot the guy dead in front of his kids. He could have done every goddamn thing everybody advises above to be 100% perfectly cooperative and polite and "yassuh" and bowing and scraping, and they still could have killed him just because they felt like it and gotten off scot free. That's the reality of this godforsaken country.

Now I have to go puke my guts out.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:08 PM on August 29 [29 favorites]


The best advice ever given to me about cops, by a 12 year veteran of the Louisiana State Police:

Being protected by the Awesome Power of White I lived for quite a few years in sketchy neighborhoods but eventually fled to the 'burbs after ending up in the crossfire between an ex-neighbor and some drug dealers. And the cops were worse than useless, automatically assuming I must have had some reason to get shot at and nosily checking me out as I moved.

So I kind of freaked when I learned one of my new neighbors was a hero ex-cop. But most everyone knew my story and he made an effort to reassure me. He told me that I was right to be wary, because for the most part if you meet a cop who's been on the force longer than five years, they're dirty. It's a thankless nasty job that tends to wash out the do-gooders who want to save the world pretty quickly (except for a few fools like himself), and it is always in your interest to assume a career cop is getting something out of the job on top of his paycheck. In a lot of cases it's that they're sadistic bullies.

Dave turned out to be one of the best neighbors I ever had.
posted by localroger at 4:08 PM on August 29 [34 favorites]


This isn't the country I grew up in anymore.

This is so the country you grew up in, if that was the US. I mean, "cop beats up black guy, just 'cos" is really, really, really not a new story. And, in fact, on the whole I think there's probably less of this than there was. Not enough less, of course.


If you grew prior to the 60s, this might be the case if you were a minority; but if you grew up after that, no; over the last decade or so, I think things have gotten worse for everyone not absolutely wealthy, minorities included.

And the cause isn't too hard to find; the Supreme Court has given police and prosecutors almost unconditional immunity for any act they commit, no matter how outrageous:
How the Supreme Court Protects Bad Cops

...A 2011 case, Connick v. Thompson, illustrates how difficult the Supreme Court has made it to prove municipal liability. John Thompson was convicted of an armed robbery and a murder and spent 18 years in prison, 14 of them on death row, because of prosecutorial misconduct. Two days before Mr. Thompson’s trial began in New Orleans, the assistant district attorney received the crime lab’s report, which stated that the perpetrator of the armed robbery had a blood type that did not match Mr. Thompson’s. The defense was not told this crucial information.

Through a series of coincidences, Mr. Thompson’s lawyer discovered the blood evidence soon before the scheduled execution. New testing was done and again the blood of the perpetrator didn’t match Mr. Thompson’s DNA or even his blood type. His conviction was overturned, and he was eventually acquitted of all charges.

The district attorney’s office, which had a notorious history of not turning over exculpatory evidence to defendants, conceded that it had violated its constitutional obligation. Mr. Thompson sued the City of New Orleans, which employed the prosecutors, and was awarded $14 million.

But the Supreme Court reversed that decision, in a 5-to-4 vote, and held that the local government was not liable for the prosecutorial misconduct. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said that New Orleans could not be held liable because it could not be proved that its own policies had violated the Constitution. The fact that its prosecutor blatantly violated the Constitution was not enough to make the city liable.

Because it is so difficult to sue government entities, most victims’ only recourse is to sue the officers involved. But here, too, the Supreme Court has created often insurmountable obstacles. The court has held that all government officials sued for monetary damages can raise “immunity” as a defense. Police officers and other law enforcement personnel who commit perjury have absolute immunity and cannot be sued for money, even when it results in the imprisonment of an innocent person. A prosecutor who commits misconduct, as in Mr. Thompson’s case, also has absolute immunity to civil suits. ...
The author of the linked NYT op-ed is Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the School of Law at the University of California, Irvine, and I think it's very much worth reading in its entirety.
posted by jamjam at 4:09 PM on August 29 [35 favorites]


I'm pretty sure, but not totally sure that that is a more or less public area to sit and eat the crap you bought at one of the skyway stalls before trudging back to your desk. The most frightening part to me was when the second officer enters the scene, does exactly zero assessment of the situation, and proceeds to get into a shouting match with a guy in the skyway. Do your job, asshole.

The St. Paul Police Department has been corrupt for decades. All the way to the top. I can't be the only one who remember when they had to fire a ton of higher ups back in the 90's when all that Gang Strike Force illegal seizure bullshit was going down. Not that Minneapolis is any better. But hey, at least we're not Woodbury.
posted by Sphinx at 4:10 PM on August 29 [7 favorites]


Do your job, asshole.

What you are watching there is someone doing EXACTLY their job, to perfection.
posted by Cosine at 4:12 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


I hope this shit leads to cops in every city and county in the country having to wear cameras and mics when interacting with a citizen, and if in the course of an arrest or prosecution that footage happens to "get lost," the chargers against that person are immediately dropped.

This is fucking insane.
posted by echocollate at 4:14 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


kavasa, are you familiar with the supreme court case Kolender v. Lawson (1983) 461 U.S. 352? i suggest that you take a look at it before you comment again.
posted by bruce at 4:15 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


kavasa, now you're ducking. Your initial comment presumed that the most likely explanation was that the security guard had asked the man to leave, and that he was on private property.

Well guess what turns out there's evidence in the thread that the Skyways aren't public property.
posted by wuwei at 4:16 PM on August 29


I think it was David Brin who forecast the coming death of privacy from a million wearable cameras trained on everyone and it seemed kind of dystopian in Earth but it can't come soon enough for me.
posted by bq at 4:17 PM on August 29


Police officers and other law enforcement personnel who commit perjury have absolute immunity and cannot be sued for money, even when it results in the imprisonment of an innocent person.

Holy shit! Really?!
posted by junco at 4:17 PM on August 29


nathan - thanks for the link! I did a little bit of poking around on the strib and PP sites but hadn't found anything that useful, so I was going off speculation of the sort of semi-private spaces you see in the skyway sometimes, based off the fact that the security guard seemed to think of it as private. Although all my experience is Minneapolis skyway rather than StP.

I like the proposed alternative dialogue options for the police (I remarked very early on that the "that's what police do" line was bad). It's hard to know if those would have worked or not, but they'd've been better! And I also agree that the seating area in question definitely looks public. Well, I won't pretend to know StP city ordinances well enough to be certain, but that looks a lot worse than what I was imagining.

Cosine, my logic was that the security guard had a real basis for the call (maybe just whatever 10 hour training course they got? I dunno). My logic wasn't that someone erroneously described a public place as private.

echo, bodycams are coming. They're just expensive, so rollout takes a long time.

wuwei, I hadn't seen nathan's link when I posted my last one. I'm not "ducking". JFC. Assume good faith.

bruce, I googled that case and it looks irrelevant to my initial understanding (based on the PP article) of what happened.
posted by kavasa at 4:19 PM on August 29


That Police are held to a lower standard of behavior than ordinary citizens should not be a surprise.
posted by smidgen at 4:19 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


wuwei: “Well guess what turns out there's evidence in the thread that the Skyways aren't public property.”

I'm guessing this is a typo, right? It sounds like the Skyways are public property. A security guard doesn't have the right to evict someone from public property.
posted by koeselitz at 4:19 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


junco: Don't google "philadelphia civil forfeiture", just don't.
posted by Cosine at 4:19 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


I've responded to everyone who's posted this video on my FB feed with this link

Man in Portland, maine stopped for carrying a gun

I know, different department, etc. But the larger point remains valid. There are simply two different worlds that we live in, existing side by side, easily ignored y some, unavoidable for others.

For everyone who says "just do what the cops say" you have to understand that even then there's no guarantee of safety. "Show me your ID" can turn into getting frisked faster than you have a chance to wrap your head around the situation.

Getting frisked means physical contact with an officer, which means any movement on your part can now be interpreted as "resisting" or worse. Too slow, or too fast, doesn't matter. Hell, going as limp and pliable as possible can be read as resisting or "attitude".

Now that the process has started, there's no turning back. Getting frisked means getting cuffed. Even if they plan on letting you go. You are now under their control, and must remain so. Cuffing ensures that. Gonna take a while to run your ID? Now you're either sitting on a curbed cuffed and humiliated for a half hour, or they'll stick you in the back of the car.

Are you under arrest at this point? they're for sure not going to tell you, and asking is just interpreted as "talking back/being a nuisance"

This isn't a fantasy. I've had this happen to me numerous times, and I was taught as a black kid growing up to always take the "yes sir, no sir, do whatever they tell you" route. Many times I've had friends taken in for no reason other than just not being cooperative enough, only to be let go with no charges a few hours later, a little more bruised and banged up than before.

And all this is just considered normal in the lives of most young (and not so young) Black American men. Including the "good" ones like myself who went to fancy private schools and grew up next door to the deputy chief of police.

Every encounter with the police is about whether or not you will submit to their will. If you broke the law or not is a secondary concern at best.

This Orwell quote from 1984 has been in my head on repeat for the past few weeks...

"Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. "
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:23 PM on August 29 [126 favorites]


koeselitz, yes, that was a typo. The Skyways are public property, as another MeFite posted.
posted by wuwei at 4:23 PM on August 29


This Orwell quote from 1984 has been in my head on repeat for the past few weeks...

"Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. "


I had fought back tears until this, I don't know what to do, what can we do?
posted by Cosine at 4:25 PM on August 29 [14 favorites]


I think we need a new short-cut/acronym:

td;dr;jlf

too depressing; didn't read; just like ferguson
posted by Fizz at 4:25 PM on August 29 [6 favorites]


Very cute photo here along with this tidbit:
According to the police report, St. Paul police officers Michael Johnson and Bruce Schmidt “were called to the First National Bank Building on a report of uncooperative male refusing to leave.” The third female officer in the video has been identified as Lori Hayne, and has since retired, reports the Pioneer Press. The name of the security guard that Lollie claims made the call was omitted from the police report “due to safety concerns.”
posted by maggieb at 4:28 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


Police come for medical calls if they're closer than the paramedics. A few weeks after I moved in to my current place, my upstairs neighbor had.... something happen (I didn't know him) and the police banged down his door. A fire truck arrived next, and then an ambulance. Eventually they took him out on a stretcher. It was incredibly noisy upstairs while this was going on, so I don't know if there was some sort of a scuffle or what. The neighbor is black; there was one white cop, one black cops, and a bunch of white firemen/paramedics.

The neighbor never came back, and they gutted the entire apartment (tile, carpet, everything) so I'm intensely curious about what happened, but I doubt I'll ever know. It is much quieter though. :(
posted by desjardins at 4:28 PM on August 29


Yeah, I really don't get the argument that he should have been more compliant. I get really cranky when I'm hungry and I've been a hell of a lot more defiant than this guy when detained and hassled for no reason (I was riding my bike through a neighborhood and stopped to take some photos of this plant with super spiky leaves, which I hate with a passion because I had to remove several of them in my old neighborhood. I was using a Nikon FM2 at the time, which is pretty clearly a camera and not anything else).

Yes, I'm aware that interaction shows I can really be a dick, and also that police still treat me a lot better than they did this guy (or, I can only assume, almost anyone of color).
posted by johnofjack at 4:29 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


From this article:

The Jan. 31 arrest of Christopher Lollie, 28, video-recorded on Lollie's cellphone, has drawn national attention......."While the incident occurred over eight months ago,"

Well, technically, I call that under 7 months ago, so why should I believe anything else you say about it, Mayor Coleman?
posted by ambrosen at 4:29 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


I'd like to point out that police harassment and brutality -- as well as the continuing erosion of civil rights -- aren't just racial issues. Thank you.
posted by nowhere man at 4:30 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


I'm just gonna read everyone who finds this kind of thing defensible in a Gollum voice so I don't bust a vein
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:31 PM on August 29 [15 favorites]


As to The cops having reason to check his ID, that's just ridiculous. Police don't HAVE to pull you over if they see you speeding. It's their discretion based on a whole lot of criteria, including how close it is to quitting time.

Police get called for a lot of petty reasons and they have choices in how they respond. I used to manage a retail store, and I knew if I called the police because someone shoplifted a pack of baseball cards, I would get yelled at when they arrived for wasting their time.

A guy sitting on a bench, and now he's not sitting on the bench is not a crime that warrants treating someone like a "suspect", private property or not. Unless you're operating under the subconscious historical assumption that Black male = criminal.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:31 PM on August 29 [16 favorites]


Few people follow up the common "a few bad apples" phrase with the other half ... "spoils the whole bushel."

Also pulling yourself up by bootstraps is physically impossible.
posted by odinsdream at 4:33 PM on August 29


It's harder and harder to believe it's just a few bad apples.

Sorry, I'm just here to point out that this phrase is intended to mean that if you've got a "few bad apples" in your barrel, then the whole barrel is ruined. Which also fits the circumstances, as far as I can see. That is, you've got to check the quality of your "apples" and get rid of the bad ones immediately, lest they all be tainted.
posted by Jimbob at 4:34 PM on August 29 [10 favorites]


That article that maggieb linked to says charges were "dismissed," not "dropped." I'm no lawyer, but based on my extensive viewing of Law and Order, I think dismissed and dropped are different. Dropped means the prosecuter said "nevermind" either because there was no crime or no proof. "Dismissed" means a judge basically said "this is BS and you're wasting everyone's time."

Has my TV-based legal education failed me?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:35 PM on August 29


Yeah, and it's an inapt phrase if it wasn't just a few bad apples that ruined a barrel.
posted by koeselitz at 4:35 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Police officers and other law enforcement personnel who commit perjury have absolute immunity and cannot be sued for money, even when it results in the imprisonment of an innocent person.

Off hand, I'm thinking - Mark Fuhrman?

The sued-for-money thing goes to their working for the city, which is why you sue the city, same as you sue Walmart when their truck rear ends you. As I understand it, of course, and I could be wrong.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:36 PM on August 29


(I mean: several people have apparently tried to claim that "a few bad apples" is a saying that always applies whenever a bunch of apples (or what have you) is ruined, but clearly that is not the case. The saying means that it only takes a few bad apples, but alternately it is possible for a bunch of apples to be ruined because all of them were terrible in the first place.)
posted by koeselitz at 4:37 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


penguin - yes, prosecutors can dismiss charges as well.
posted by kavasa at 4:38 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


He could have died. People die from tasing.
posted by bq at 4:38 PM on August 29 [17 favorites]


bq: He could have died. People die from tasing.

Yup. This happened this week, too.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:44 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


*after reading about the "cattle prod" tasing* Oh, gawds, I can't even take it anymore... and I'm not even black. But I worry for my nieces and nephews, who deal with racism every day, who face the very real possibility of being killed by police because of how dark their skin is.

I feel so impotent.
posted by _paegan_ at 4:49 PM on August 29


kavasa, i'm starting to wonder about you. you "googled the case" before commenting and you "don't think it's relevant"?

if your knowledge of constitutional law comes from google just before you comment, how would you know the right search terms "kolender" and "lawson"? i know the right search terms because i practiced law 1980-1995, am interested in civil rights, and followed this case when it was going down.
posted by bruce at 4:50 PM on August 29 [17 favorites]


Sounds like it doesn't really come into play here, but there should be a rule that any private property you make otherwise generally open to the public is legally a public space. That's actually not too far off from how a lot of precedents from earlier in our history seemed to view matters. If a location is public to all comers with money to potentially spend, maybe it should be viewed as public space, period. Yes, that would mean homeless people being allowed in malls, which would make some customers uncomfortable, but hey, that'd be a potential issue at every mall, so it's fair, and it also provides more immediate incentive to address the real underlying problems. That's the kind of thing I think could legitimately be written off as a cost of freedom--unlike all the various sacrifices of personal freedom we're frequently told are necessary evils in the name of some nebulous, ever-broadening idea of security.

koeselitz: No, they're right. Visibly rotten apples release toxins that can also make other nearby apples unfit for consumption even if they don't look it. The adage was originally precautionary (better throw out the whole barrel) because the dangers were real, but not necessarily obvious from appearances, and being thrifty, people tended to want to keep the apples that didn't look obviously bad.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:53 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


indigojones (4:36 PM) you are not wrong in your final paragraph about suing the employer. what you're talking about is called "respondeat superior" and it is complex.
posted by bruce at 4:55 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


I don't have anything smart to say about this, but jesus, that video made me cry so hard I thought I was going to puke.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 4:56 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


I've watched (well, mostly listened) to that video three times now, and I'm shocked to my very soul why any sort of escalation was necessary at all. The blotter should read, 0950 - responded to 911 call about an individual loitering, turns out he's just waiting a couple minutes to pick up his kids, got on with my life.
posted by Sphinx at 4:58 PM on August 29 [40 favorites]


Apparently the bad apples have spoiled the whole bunch.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:05 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


I'd like to point out that police harassment and brutality -- as well as the continuing erosion of civil rights -- aren't just racial issues. Thank you.

I'm not really sure that what this thread was missing was a "but what about the white people" comment.
posted by elizardbits at 5:06 PM on August 29 [34 favorites]


maybe some palate cleansing cute kitten videos might be better
posted by elizardbits at 5:07 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


bruce and indigojones - Part of the complexity in civil rights cases against municipal governments is that the government entity is *not* subject to respondeat superior liability. Instead the government-as-employer is liable only if it directly caused harm, e.g. through a failure to train the officer. It's called Monell liability, for anyone who wants to google further - and it's one of the many barriers to actual compensation for victims of civil rights violations.
posted by heisenberg at 5:08 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


And oh, as a St Paul tax payer I'm glad Lollie is suing the city. If the most I can contribute to righting this wrong is some small portion of my tax dollar, so be it.

Settlements for police misconduct should come from the police department's pension funds. Hit 'em in the wallet and just maybe the cops will rethink their tactics.
posted by zardoz at 5:11 PM on August 29 [7 favorites]


jetlagaddict, story from the news article is that he was sitting on private property and refused to leave when asked to do so. So if you had sat on private property, and a security guard asked you to leave, and you refused to do so, you'd probably get called on.

I used to do urban exploration, taking photos of buildings being demolished and stuff. Occasionally I'd encounter security guards and I'd have to sweet talk them to stay so I could get pictures. It worked sometimes sometimes they chased me out anyway.

But never, never, ever did they call the cops on me or get aggressive, even when I argued about being told to leave.
posted by winna at 5:15 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


put his hands behind his back when requested

If he had just made a sandwich for the officer as asked, this would have resolved been peacefully.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:16 PM on August 29


At the heart of this issue is how we have let corporations mediate our public spaces until they are sort of public. The Midwest and central parts of NA are full of these exact sorts of are-they aren't-they places.

Which, of course, gives us a huge legal framework from which to harass those people who are less desirable.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:16 PM on August 29 [7 favorites]


I think I know where you're coming from, bitter-girl. I agree with the other responses to your post that this has always happened in this country on a large scale and we're just more aware of it now. But I also feel like in the last decade or so, as the internet etc. has made it more visible, there's also been a perverse reaction against that that makes the people perpetrating this more brazen, and their supporters more outspoken, and racists in general prouder and more loudly self-congratulatory. As if as it gets harder to cover up and be ignored by "polite society", the racists are doubling down and saying "so what?"
You hit the nail on the head, junco, and thank you for clarifying my point, because when I wrote my initial comment I was feeling really helpless about all of this and how it seems like we can't even do anything about it. I'm not saying this stuff didn't happen when I was a kid, blah blah. Of course it did, even if I personally didn't witness it.

However, when I was growing up you sure as fuck wouldn't have had such unrepentant, unrelenting, PUBLIC dickery. Is this the flip side of the internet allowing us to form communities of like-minded people?

(In this case the kind of people who think we should give Officer Wilson $300,000 for killing a kid, or arrest a guy waiting for his kids because OMG SCARY DREADLOCKS, or whatever).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 5:18 PM on August 29 [9 favorites]


No consequences = no change.
posted by tyllwin at 5:26 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


.
posted by harrietthespy at 5:28 PM on August 29


Sue both the City of St Paul and the police department, is what I say. Hit them where it really, really hurts.
posted by droplet at 5:30 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


I'm always surprised and saddened when real cops immediately back up mall cops. Shit, guys, there a reason they didn't make the cut.
posted by mhoye at 5:32 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


Last Wed, in the midst of the Ferguson protests, I was driving to work and late for a meeting and kinda gunned it for a second on the main drag right in front of the police station here in Nowheresville, MI. So the guy who pulled me over had me dead to rights, and I told him as much and apologized and gave him my papers, and he greeted me very nicely (I mean REALLY nicely by cop standards) and politely asked if I was in a hurry, and I said, yeah, I'm late for a meeting and I'm rushing, so I got a little lead-footed there. Mea culpa.

And he says extremely nicely, "OK, I'll call this in and get you on your way quickly." And brings my stuff back about 1 min. later and lets me off with a warning I neither asked for nor deserved. As I rolled up the window and went to my stupid meeting, I kept thinking of Mike Brown and just felt the stink of privilege on me, like it reeked from every pore. I wish I could have figured out a non-piss-him-off way to ask the cop if he could give me the ticket I earned, and save the kindness and benefit of the doubt for the next time he or his coworkers pull over someone who's not an ancient white broad. Course, for all I know, this particular officer is friendly and respectful to everyone he meets.

It just seems like all the work people do and have done for decades trying to make life in the U.S. vaguely equitable just adds up to fuck-all when somebody can't even go pick up his kids from pre-school without getting hassled like he's public enemy number one.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:32 PM on August 29 [29 favorites]


That's really chilling.

The best case for the asshole police officers here would seem to be if they could demonstrate that they're equally abusive to people of all races, which is also horrifying, but for different reasons. But it's hard to watch this and conclude it is anything other than racism.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:33 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


At the heart of this issue is how we have let corporations mediate our public spaces until they are sort of public. The Midwest and central parts of NA are full of these exact sorts of are-they aren't-they places.

What does this mean in the context of the skyway system? Is the government supposed to own all buildings?

Also, the heart of the issue is racism and abusive policing.
posted by Area Man at 5:40 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Man, a couple of weeks ago I got pulled over (for turning onto a street with a Do Not Enter sign for particular times of day). I had lost my wallet the previous weekend and had not yet replaced my driver's license. I told the cop as much, told him I drive that route so often at a time of day when the turn is legal that I had forgotten it ever wasn't, and gave him my passport.

I got off with a warning-- not even a written warning, a verbal warning, probably because I radiate a Nice White Lady field so strong it may actually bend light.

Any suggestions for how to use these powers for good? If I can make someone else's interaction with a cop less awful with my presence, I'd be more than happy to do so.
posted by nonasuch at 5:48 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]




I'd sue the mall, if nothing else.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:50 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


It just seems like all the work people do and have done for decades trying to make life in the U.S. vaguely equitable just adds up to fuck-all

I understand this feeling, but I think it's really minimizing to the people doing this work, which include the people protesting in Ferguson, and Chris Lollie, who took this video and posted it so people can see what's happening. His charges were dropped, he's doing this to help make life equitable. That's part of the purpose of not staying quiet about injustice.
posted by sweetkid at 5:59 PM on August 29 [8 favorites]


This didn't happen in a mall. Suing the office building seems like a waste of time. Maybe calling the cops should be recognized as a tort, but the courts aren't going to see it that way.
posted by Area Man at 6:03 PM on August 29


I understand this feeling, but I think it's really minimizing to the people doing this work, which include the people protesting in Ferguson, and Chris Lollie, who took this video and posted it so people can see what's happening.

I hope they do succeed in kicking the can a little farther down the road; I just hate that they have to.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:04 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


It is, though. The country is the same, it's just that we all grew up and learned the actual way life is.

I want the country I was taught it was.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:10 PM on August 29 [22 favorites]


This didn't happen in a mall. Suing the office building seems like a waste of time.

Maybe, maybe not. The security guard was employed by someone. If they called the cops (911) on someone who was in a public area, they probably had no right/justification to do that. If a mall cop beats me up on the sidewalk, I imagine the mall is responsible for his actions (if they are on the job).

But I sure the heck ain't a lawyer. And it tends to annoy me when internet commentors assume that you can sue (particularly the government/cops) anytime there is a miscarriage of justice; I'm not *that* naive.
posted by el io at 6:12 PM on August 29


what? how... why the fuck would cops a) show up when paramedics were called to a non-criminal situation, and b) arrest someone having a seizure?

I can speak to this. I had a coworker go into diabetic shock maybe eight years ago now. I called 911, and about ten minutes later, a cop showed up. He looked around the room, looked my coworker (now mostly lying still on the ground with somebody cradling his head so he wouldn't smash it against the floor), and left. Then maybe five minutes later a couple of dudes in firefighter's clothing came in and administered first aid and got him lucid and up and about again. Very odd.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:19 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


I faint easily so have had 911 called on me before for medical reasons and usually fire comes first - which I vividly remember when I fainted naked at the easily embarrassed age of 13 and woke up to 13 burly firemen in my hallway, one of whom was giving me oxygen.

I know it is common to send police, fire and medical when calling 911 though, order depends I think.
posted by sweetkid at 6:26 PM on August 29


I used to live right next to Neighborhood Justice Center. They do a lot of good work in that tiny little building so I hope they can see this through to some kind of justice. They take donations if anyone's interested. You can dedicate it as well.
posted by Bacon Bit at 6:28 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Speaking of police not being charged for breaking the law "in the scope of their duties", the L.A. policeman who was typing on his laptop while driving and hit and killed bicyclist lawyer ex-Napster official wont' face charges as he was carrying out his lawful duties.
posted by aliksd at 6:29 PM on August 29 [20 favorites]


Now, that he has access to his phone 6+ months after the incident, it reinforces the importance of not just recording your encounter or witnessing but to get that data safely away before your phone gets confiscated. What options are there to be sure that 1) you get the date; 2) safely store the data off the machine in a very timely manner and 3) prevent your data from getting wiped or made inaccessible?

I would like to reverse the Panopticon a bit here.
posted by jadepearl at 6:30 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


saulgoodman: That's an interesting idea. I suspect, though, that the result would be every mall becoming a private club. You'd have to buy a membership -- maybe it would come with a voucher for equivalent spending in the mall. It would be a token cost to many people, but a hardship for others, including many who are poor but not homeless.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:32 PM on August 29


didn't they knock the phone out of his hand though before he could do anything with the data?
posted by sweetkid at 6:32 PM on August 29


As I rolled up the window and went to my stupid meeting, I kept thinking of Mike Brown and just felt the stink of privilege on me, like it reeked from every pore.

Being treated decently by police shouldn't be considered a "privilege", it should be a considered -- it should *be* -- a right. It's too late to choose a new phrase, but I think the term "white privilege" is a little unfortunate (even though what it describes is all too real), because it's so easy for people like Bill O'Reilly or that dipshit kid at Princeton to misunderstand. They hear the word "privilege" and think "I'm not privileged, I grew up poor and had to work hard all my life", and so forth.
The problem isn't that white people are getting special treatment that they don't deserve; it's that non-white people *aren't* getting the same treatment.

One thing I *do* consider a white privilege is the ability to grow up with no clue what other people are suffering through. If you have the "default" skin color, you can just sail through life with no idea what it's like for people who don't, unless somebody breaks it down for you or you make an effort to find out. That's a privilege I don't think anybody deserves.
posted by uosuaq at 6:34 PM on August 29 [26 favorites]


It might be difficult to have enough bandwidth for high-def video, but what you'd probably want is an app or option an existing video recording app to stream realtime to the cloud, maybe with an automatic hook to email some emergency contact with a link to watch the video (in case you're dead/in custody)
posted by crayz at 6:36 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Copblock has a list of recording/streaming apps. I have not tried any of them.
posted by desjardins at 6:42 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


The disheartening thing is that, generally, St. Paul police are better than most. When the Replicant National Committee was in town, all the out of town cops wore jackboots and helmets and carried riot shields and acted like we who were marching peacefully were about to turn into an overwhelming force and attack them. The St. Paul police were in their usual uniforms strolling around talking to people. When I mentioned the impression the other cops made, one of the SPPD guys just rolled his eyes.

It goes to show how ingrained this type of racism is and how much harder we have to work to root out of our society. Every sincere individual has to look at his or her own behavior and preconceptions and honestly confront any residual racism in them. We need to demand that of our public servants, especially the police because they can have such a huge effect at the margins.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:45 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Man, a couple of weeks ago I got pulled over (for turning onto a street with a Do Not Enter sign for particular times of day).

Those are completely idiotic, by the way.
posted by goethean at 6:47 PM on August 29


I used to live right next to Neighborhood Justice Center...They take donations if anyone's interested.

And
here's where you can give.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:48 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


I want the country I was taught it was.

sorry, that one was pretend
posted by elizardbits at 6:48 PM on August 29 [24 favorites]


This is key from the Atlantic article on this:

So a man waiting to pick up his kids from school sits for a few minutes in a seating area where he reasonably thinks he has a right to be, private security asks him to leave, he thinks they're harassing him because he's black, and they call police. This is where the video begins, and that conflict is already over. The man is walking away from it and toward the nearby school where he is to pick up his kids.
posted by sweetkid at 6:51 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


What options are there to be sure that 1) you get the date; 2) safely store the data off the machine in a very timely manner

Easiest option is to install Dropbox on your device and allow it to use your cell data for image / video backups. It's the perfect option because it will work in the background without user intervention and it allows you to use your usual camera app, which is important in a way since, in a crisis situation, you probably won't want to dig for some special app which you rarely use.

And even if the cops seize your phone, as long as they don't turn it off, it will continue to upload the video while in their possession. And if you're truly paranoid, pay Dropbox for a yearly plan which includes unlimited versioning. Then, if you get a tech-savvy cop who tries to delete the file from Dropbox, you can easily restore it.

Another good option is to use a live-streaming service which automatically records your streams to the server for later playback. You'll have to do some research as to which one is the best these days. I used to use UStream and had decent results, but there might be a better app now.
posted by honestcoyote at 6:52 PM on August 29 [7 favorites]


The disheartening thing is that, generally, St. Paul police are better than most.

Yeah exactly. I went to school in a very racially mixed neighborhood, lived in the "bad" and "ghetto" parts of St. Paul, saw lots of police interactions with the community and responding to complaints and it has always been overall calm and resolved fairly peacefully. It's not like the skyway downtown is only white people all the time or anything, it's actually pretty diverse. That daycare is probably about 10% white kids. I'm sure there is a lot of racist shit I don't see or pick up on in this city since I'm white. I'm just baffled and heartbroken.
posted by Bacon Bit at 7:14 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


One quibble with that is Dropbox doesn't upload video over mobile networks even with mobile picture upload turned on. Unless there's a level I'm missing.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:16 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Very cute photo here along with this tidbit:

Dangerous-looking black man. The most dangerous because he totally obliterates the usual racist assumptions. Gotta put those types in jail pronto.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:31 PM on August 29


Oh, and for iOS even with background upload turned on you usually have to open the app to get it going. The Android version is much better about instantly uploading.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:33 PM on August 29


Holy fuck, I work in the next building over from there. I have walked through that hallway a hundred times on my way to go get a delicious salad from the deli around the corner from where he was sitting.

This video makes me feel way more unsafe than any of the random people I walk past in the skyway every day. I feel sick.
posted by beandip at 7:42 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


I'll have to test video uploading and Dropbox. I wasn't aware it wouldn't use mobile networks for video. I'm around WiFi constantly in my daily life so I just assumed cell data would just work in the same way. Maybe there's a threshold, i.e., 480p video gets uploaded over mobile while 1080p doesn't.

Found this support article on automatically backing up images / video to Google Drive. The article claims images and video can be uploaded over mobile data. If this does work as advertised, then it might be a better alternative to Dropbox.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:46 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


I have been stopped/pulled over unfairly in my life - and though I am not black and I appreciate that this may make all the difference in the world -- I have found that the time to argue your case ("I didn't do anything") is after everyone is calm, which usually happens when you show some level of respect and compliance to the police officer.

One of the reasons being black makes all the difference in the world is that if you are white, it very likely is your experience that if you do show some level of respect and compliance, everyone, including the police officers, will calm down.

If you are black, especially in certain cities and in certain neighborhoods, you cannot reasonably expect that your respect and compliance will elicit mutual respect from the policeman. You will frequently find a policeman whose intent is to goad you into intemperate behavior, either because it amuses him or because he establishes his authority in the neighborhood by creating situations where he can exercise abusive force and get away with it.

It's good to remember that the lessons you've learned about how best to deal with the police aren't necessarily the lessons that other people learn, so judging their reaction to the situation based just on what you expect would have happened if it were you is not such a good idea.
posted by layceepee at 7:50 PM on August 29 [41 favorites]


Two weeks ago I was driving home from a concert, was pulled over twice on the 2.5 hour drive home; both times I was given a warning and was on my way within 2 or 3 minutes.

I'm white.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:54 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Actually, it would be good to have an updated comparison list of the behavior of all the popular cloud camera backups for the different OSes. Get an intern on that.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:05 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


ENOUGH WITH THE F@#$@#$ING APPLES ALREADY!

What a bunch of armchair agronomists!
posted by etherist at 8:12 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Emily Bazelon: "Why I Don't Call the Police"
posted by etherist at 8:17 PM on August 29 [8 favorites]


If you are black, especially in certain cities and in certain neighborhoods, you cannot reasonably expect that your respect and compliance will elicit mutual respect from the policeman.

I would add that there is probably not a level of respect and compliance that a black person can show that can be sufficient in far too many circumstances that involve contact with cops.
posted by rtha at 8:18 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Re: why the cops show up to a EMS call: I'm one of the people at work with a police/fire/emergency radio on my desk at work and hear every tone-out. They hardly ever need me, but I listen for my call sign anyway. Medical calls will always get fire and police, too, unless they very clearly don't need fire. The ambulance will have a couple of EMTs doing medical. The fire guys will rescue the victim from whatever hidey hole they're in, or carry them down stairs, or fetch stuff from the ambulance or whatever. The police do security for the scene, directing traffic and keeping looky-loos out of the way.

Luckily, there are a lot of people around trained to be a person-in-charge. By the time security gets there, there will already be a dominant-seeming person of authority to tell the cops what to do, even if that is "stand by over there" or "clear this road for the ambulance" And they do it without trying to be super heroes of the whole scene.

They key is not putting the cops into a power vacuum. Because they will attempt to fill it.

BTW, this is all beside the racism/abuse discussion. I'm just explaining how the call is supposed to work.
posted by ctmf at 8:20 PM on August 29 [10 favorites]


The second half of this segment from tonight's Chris Hayes show discussed the Lollie incident. (Funny enough, the "bad apples" analogy came up during the segment.)
posted by tonycpsu at 8:37 PM on August 29


sigh
posted by cashman at 8:43 PM on August 29


I cannot tell what makes me the most angry: police, or police apologists. It's all lost in the general ragenado, alas.
posted by maxwelton at 9:08 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Of course a single bad apple can spoil an entire barrel full. The myth that it doesn't was perpetrated by certain troublemaking kids.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:15 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


bouvin: "Becoming a Danish police officer is a three year long process consisting of both formal education and field training. How involved is the USian system for training police officers?"

Twelve weeks. And there's maximum IQ requirements.
posted by notsnot at 9:28 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


sorry, that one was pretend

Everything people-made is just pretend until some people with imagination come along, make plans, and carry them out. Situations like this, when they come to light, give the public a chance to try to put their heads together and make plans with an actual chance to work, plans motivated and informed by the public interest, if their leaders will listen to them.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:37 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Hmmm... looks like the Koch Brothers have some explaining to do...
posted by zaelic at 9:40 PM on August 29


Everything man made is just pretend until some people with imagination come along, make plans, and carry them out.

My point is that the america we learned about in elementary school, the one with freedom and liberty and justice for all and all men created equal, was and continues to be a lie, because it was founded via murder and rape and genocide and slavery, and the only equality was between white men of means, just like every other country in this part of the world. Presumably one would expect that we have nowhere else to go but up from that, but some days it doesn't seem like much progress has been made.
posted by elizardbits at 9:47 PM on August 29 [32 favorites]


just like every other country in this part of the world

whooaa... hey, what about Haiti?
posted by el io at 9:51 PM on August 29


have u heard of france
posted by elizardbits at 9:56 PM on August 29 [9 favorites]


All Cops Are Bastards. All cops are racist. Learn it, and remember it.
posted by Neilopolis at 10:01 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the internet rage machine will ever do more than impotently bash away at keyboards.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:58 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman: "koeselitz: No, they're right. Visibly rotten apples release toxins that can also make other nearby apples unfit for consumption even if they don't look it. The adage was originally precautionary (better throw out the whole barrel) because the dangers were real, but not necessarily obvious from appearances, and being thrifty, people tended to want to keep the apples that didn't look obviously bad."

Sigh.

Okay, here we go:

When people say "oh, all cops aren't bad; it's just a few bad apples," they are not saying "all cops are actually bad, having been spoiled by the bad cops." And if you're trying to argue that those defenders of the police who say the bad cops are "just a few bad apples" are actually saying that the police are all rotten, then you have misunderstood them and their use of the phrase.

What they are saying is: "it's just a few bad apples; don't let them spoil the bunch." What they mean is: most cops are great; fire the bad ones, and don't let them color your perception of the rest of the police force.

But you, man of twists and turns, and Jimbob have jumped on poor Increase here, acting as though they misunderstood the idiom, when they clearly did not. Increase said "it's getting harder to believe that it's just a few bad apples" - as in, it is getting harder to believe that American police departments can be saved by just tossing out the bad cops. Increase made this point quite blindingly clear by explaining it: police work draws certain unstable and unfortunate personalities and does little to weed them out. That's a good explanation.

In other words, the bunch of apples was not spoiled by a few apples which were rotten. The bunch of apples was already spoiled to begin with, when the apples were put in the barrel.

But here you appear to be claiming that this is impossible. Do you really mean to argue that it is impossible to put rotten apples in a barrel together all at once? That apples only ever rot in their original barrel, and are never removed from it? The metaphor made sense when Increase used it. When other people (incorrectly) chided Increase for supposedly using it wrong, those other people themselves stretched the metaphor beyond its breaking point.

A few bad apples spoil the bunch. A few bad cops can spoil a police department. But it's getting harder and harder to believe that it's just a few bad apples or a few bad cops; the whole system seems to be rotten.
posted by koeselitz at 11:44 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


I wonder if the internet rage machine will ever do more than impotently bash away at keyboards.

I dunno, will it?
posted by smidgen at 11:56 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]


Well, a whole other internet rage machine is currently forcing some women writers out of their homes with rape and murder threats, so keyboard bashing can have an effect... it's just not the road we WANT to go down.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:03 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


At the very least, we'll figure out this apple metaphor.
posted by koeselitz at 12:05 AM on August 30 [11 favorites]


Koeselitz: I don't think people are pretending to misunderstand others' use of the adage. I think the point is this. These are not actual people, but just representations of each side of the conversation:

Person A Says it's just a few bad apples and means that it's not the whole police force, just a few cops.

Person B points out that PERSON A is mis-using/misunderstanding/misremembering the adage. The original adage is meant to say the whole barrel is bad, not just a few. Person B is not thinking that person A means it's the whole police force. Person B knows what Person A meant.

Who's right? Well here's what I think. We can call me Person Right: It may well be (though I doubt it) a few bad cops and the other cops are all gloriously bias-free and just. However, if your police force has a few bad cops on it who are shooting, beating, or harrassing people based on their race, then your whole police force is rotten. A non-rotten police force doesn't tolerate a few bad apples.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:08 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


I'm going to have to use "let's call me Person Right, and you Person Wrong" one day in real life.
posted by phaedon at 12:16 AM on August 30 [14 favorites]


I don't think it's a citizen's obligation to bear or diffuse unjust police interrogation, but at the same time, I don't understand how police are supposed to deal with a called-in report, a suspect who is walking away and denying identification, and claiming in his defense that he is being detained for being black.

That's an interesting question. It seems to me that a proportionate police response to the original situation, in which Chris was on sitting on that chair, would have been:
1. check out the situation: was there any sort of public disturbance going on?
2. verify that this was indeed a private area, and not a public one as it certainly seems to be
3. if it was indeed verified to be a private area, approach Chris and say "hey, sorry, but apparently this area is only for bank employees. I know it looks like a public area, but I checked and it isn't."
4.a. if, at that point, Chris had raised questions about whether it was really a private area when it was not labelled as such, answer them reasonably and sympathetically.
b. if Chris had started to object seriously, become more firm in the demand to leave.
c. if Chris had started to react violently, respond proportionally.
d. if Chris left the area, whether complaining all the while or not, consider the situation resolved.
- if Chris's behavior seemed suspicious or potentially problematic, keep an eye on him for the next few minutes.

I'm not sure why there was any real, actual need to ID him at all, let alone make it a serious sticking point. I understand that it's probably routine procedure, but it absolutely should not be.

I called him Chris throughout because I think that part of the problem is a mentality among many police officers in which anyone around them is a potential and potentially dangerous suspect, and where the likelihood of that shoots up astronomically the moment the "suspect" behaves in any way other than the highly unnatural and highly self-controlled automatic submission that is expected. The idea of thinking of him as a "Chris" probably never occurred to them; he was a suspect, an automatic opponent. Even you, in your comment, called him that. In this case, as in every other, the question should be "a suspect of what?" In this case, as in many others, the suspected activity was something innocuous (sitting on a chair in an area very clearly intended for that purpose). A mentality that immediately ignores his humanity and the basic humanity of that situation (which was, again, a man sitting on a chair) and immediately turns him into a suspect of far more dangerous things who must be ID and subdued, is extremely dangerous and opposed to the most basic understanding of human and civil rights.

The racial aspect here is on the one hand huge and on the other hand kind of a red herring. So many white people in this very thread have stories of being treated by the police automatically as suspects of something dangerous -- as people likely to pull out a gun at any moment -- without any regard to the reality of the situation or the actual stakes involved. (Imagine, for example, the awful consequences that would have ensued if Chris had simply been allowed to keep on sitting in that chair.) I understand that policework can in fact be extremely dangerous, but that is not an excuse to forget the fact that in most encounters the most potentially dangerous actors by far are the police themselves, and that their responsibility is to the entire public, including whoever they are currently facing. That the police are even more likely to react in this way to people they are biased against is an enormous and shameful problem. But that this mentality is so firmly entrenched among police forces in general is a huge problem in itself. Police are people working among the people they are meant to protect, and forgetting that equality inevitably leads to abuse of power.

I've always wondered why police shows are so popular. It's always a good thing on those shows that the police are so "tough" and "no nonsense" and cynical; the person they're up against is just inevitably about to whip out a gun and shoot them (and also turn out to be a dangerous drug dealer and kidnapper and who knows what else on the side). They drive in the "treat scum like scum" mentality and make it seem like heroism. Do people watching not understand that that kind of mentality, in real life, is also profoundly dangerous to them?
posted by trig at 12:24 AM on August 30 [30 favorites]


But I also feel like in the last decade or so, as the internet etc. has made it more visible, there's also been a perverse reaction against that that makes the people perpetrating this more brazen, and their supporters more outspoken, and racists in general prouder and more loudly self-congratulatory. As if as it gets harder to cover up and be ignored by "polite society", the racists are doubling down and saying "so what?"

in dog training, we call this an "extinction burst" -- when a negative behavior stops being rewarded it grows sharply before dying.
posted by Evilspork at 1:06 AM on August 30 [14 favorites]


I want the country I was taught it was.

oh man, you'll someday discover that almost everything you were taught is total bullshit. this can be a crushing realization but also an incredibly liberating one.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:08 AM on August 30 [16 favorites]


I understand that it's probably routine procedure, but it absolutely should not be.

Thanks for entertaining my question. In response, I would say your methodology focuses on the crime (and its resolution) rather than on the criminal (and establishing his culpability). It's a subtle yet profound difference.

Identification, physical search, detainment, this concept of "you must obey immediately or we will use non-lethal or potentially lethal force on you, even if you're just selling cigarettes on the corner" is all about discovering, or even provoking criminality, within the moment, in a way that is not necessarily connected to the circumstances for which a police officer was called upon to address in the first place.

It's fascinating how deeply embedded in American police psyche this practice is. Perhaps because some people would call it a feature. It fosters a tremendous amount of alienation, especially if there is a readily identifiable group that is systematically disenfranchised by it; that gives us something that we can see.

But perhaps were it not for those same voices who (with good intentions) scream that this is "racist," we could as an entire society look at this and say that this is wrong. Because there is something sinister and totalitarian about having the police approach and examine you in this fashion and generally speaking frown upon or refuse to be recorded, just as there is a need for an authority to help keep the peace. And how can you not expect the public to distrust you deeply when they hear stories of their servants and protectors abusing their power.

This is a major protocol problem. Calling it "racist" may not even really be getting at how deep this goes. In fact, so long as the conversation is contained within that parameter, it plays in the media - where blacks aren't exactly setting policy - as a polarizing, mercurial cultural issue where people get riled up, perhaps agree to disagree, eventually calm down and nothing changes. Shame on us all.
posted by phaedon at 1:35 AM on August 30 [8 favorites]


Perhaps were it not for those who (with good intentions) scream that this is "racist," we could as an entire society look at this and say that this is wrong.

Except it is racist and arguing that we should not focus on the fact that it is racist amounts to support for systemic racism. It's like arguing that we should not talk about the sexist and misogynist motivations of our culture's endemic rape and sexual assault of women, because, after all, men commit lots of other crimes too.

The focus must be on the worst and most urgent problems. You don't address the fact that someone is trapped in a burning hot oven by turning down your household thermostat, even if other people are feeling a bit hot too.

*please don't use 'screaming'. For me, it undermines any point that you might be making.
posted by howfar at 2:14 AM on August 30 [21 favorites]


It's crucial that all the white people here understand exactly their privilege, and how differently the rules are applied to black people.
The article in the Atlantic that sweetkid linked is a prime example of how even well-meaning whites have no clue about the two rulebooks, and their own racism.

First up:
His story about getting his kids wasn't merely plausible, given the man's age and the fact that there was a school right there–it was a story
the female police officer shown at the beginning of the video or the male officer shown later could easily confirm.
Mr. Lollie didn't owe anybody any explanations. He was in a public place and he had every right to sit down, and remain there, unmolested, in that place.
Black people are often required to justify their presence in public places where white occupation is never questioned. I'm willing to bet, heavily, that his response was reflexive.

After Mr. Lollie left the area of contention, he was harassed by police who had no legal right to even speak to him at that point.
But here's what the author of the Atlantic article suggests as 'good policing':
The female officer shown in the beginning of the video could easily have de-escalated the encounter by saying, "You're right, sir, you have every right to refuse to show me identification,
and if you're just picking up your kids I'm so sorry to have bothered you. If you don't mind, I just want to walk with you to confirm that your story checks out so I can inform the 911 caller of their error.
That way we can make sure this never happens again when you're just here to pick up your kids."
There was no situation for the female police officer to de-escelate until she created it. Mr. Lollie was not compelled by any law to justify his presence or show his identification. The very
suggestion that Mr. Lollie should be compelled to demonstrate he was a 'good responsible black man' is based upon the fallacious belief that there are good blacks and bad blacks.

Plus this happy suggestion:
Or she could've said, "Sir, I totally see why this is confusing–a lot of people would think so. Let me try to explain. That totally looks like a public seating area, but it's actually private. Don't you think they should have a sign saying so? Calling me may seem like an overreaction, but technically they can ask you to leave. You're walking away now, so there's actually no problem as long as you're not going to go back. Are you? Okay, then we have no problem, have a wonderful day."
There's no confusion except on the part of the author, who obviously didn't check his facts.
Mr. Lollie sat down in a comfy chair which he had every right to occupy. The security guard might not have understood this, but the cops sure as shit did.
The cops willfully created a Hobson's choice for Mr. Lollie. A situation they knew would end as it did.

What could have been good policing in this situation? The 911 caller reported a trespasser. The subject (not 'suspect') of the call had moved along. Mission accomplished.
There was no trespassing. Good police would know the area in question is a public area and would have counseled the security guard. There was the suggestion that police are trained to get an ID from every contact. Yup. There was no probable cause to contact Mr. Lollie because he hadn't behaved in any way unlawfully.

Unfortunately, the author of this article subscribes to the racist belief that there are good blacks and bad blacks, and that the 'good blacks' owe the white authority proof that they are good.

Also, all the links to Mr. Lollie as a 'kitten-cute' black man are racist. Piss on that noise. He's not your fucking pet.
There are a lot of black men who don't photograph so appealingly to whites.
How would you have reacted, as is often the case, if Mr. Lollie's photo was manipulated to induce terror?


The best outcome is for white people to fully comprehend that black people's lives are valuable as their own.
Also to understand that 500 years of institutional racism and propaganda has conditioned white people to both consider black people inferior and to fear them.
Get over the lies. There is only one rule book for all of us.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:32 AM on August 30 [96 favorites]


On looking back, I want to emphasize that I absolutely don't mean to say that race was not a deciding factor in this interaction; I don't think "red herring" was the right word for me to use above. What I wanted to say was that even without race it seems like there is a really ingrained tendency in many police forces to "other" almost everyone they interact with, and that this tendency is both entrenched and considered either necessary or inevitable by what feels like a lot of people. It's not necessary, it's not inevitable, and police should not feel so above or detached from the populations they serve that escalation be such an automatic approach on their part. To say "well, he should just have showed ID" when the situation absolutely did not call for it is to enforce that approach of automatic escalation.

There's no question that prejudice multiplies that othering many times over, or can create it where there might otherwise be none.

posted by trig at 4:52 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


pudhoho's verbal arrow just hit the fucking bad apple with William Tell-like precision.
posted by spitbull at 6:10 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


I'm a white guy with enough interactions with the police where I know any hint of resistance would have resulted in arrest, I have no doubt that it would be super easy to get arrested for simply being black in public in America.

And end up on mugshots.com forever, no matter whether charges were dropped.
posted by surplus at 6:50 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


phunniemee, I dunno if you should worry for your physical safety--prolly not, IME--but you should memorize the phone number for First Defense Legal Aid: 1 800 Law Rep 4 (529-7374) [Chicago only, BTW]
posted by crush-onastick at 7:14 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


The Kametra Barbour link - the black woman with her kids pulled over - was terrifying. When she's walking backwards in the dark toward the cops...terrifying. And then they have the gall to say not just her car but her plates match a suspect description. The description of a tan car with four black males "waving guns around." Oh really? Liars.

I'd like to contribute to their prosecution fund.

Also that Maine "open carry" guy was such a over-entitled prick. I'm glad he got hassled by the cops but it is a truly incredible contrast to some of this other stuff. If he was black, he would have been tackled to the ground as soon as more than one cop was on the scene.
posted by amanda at 7:27 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


Please stop calling the lack of denial of civil and human rights "privilege". That's such a terrible word to use in these cases. I'm going to Godwin this and point out that the non-Jews/non-homosexuals/non-invalids/non-gypsies/etc weren't "privileged" to not be killed in the Holocaust. It's not "privilege" to be not as badly abused by people in power as others. It takes the focus completely away from the fact that what happens to black people, hispanics, etc. isn't a "lack of privilege" but a total violation and a lack of respect of their civil and human rights. This also happens to white people and asian people too just not as much but it's not a "privilege" to not have your civil rights be violated as much. Why are we calling it that? Why not flat out say "I did not have my civil rights violated by the police because "? Why call human rights "privilege"? Rights are not privileges. Being denied those rights is not a "lack of privilege" but a violation of those rights. It's a sugar coat word that puts the focus on the people whose human rights aren't being denied that much while taking the focus away from the people violating the civil and human rights.
posted by I-baLL at 7:53 AM on August 30 [15 favorites]


Identification, physical search, detainment, this concept of "you must obey immediately or we will use non-lethal or potentially lethal force on you, even if you're just selling cigarettes on the corner" is all about discovering, or even provoking criminality, within the moment, in a way that is not necessarily connected to the circumstances for which a police officer was called upon to address in the first place.

One of the many pieces of the problem with this approach is that the cops come into the interaction with an idea of what a criminal looks like. And one of the pieces of that is frequently "he's black", particularly if he's black without strong upper-middle-class SES indicators. And even if he does have them, he's probably still fucked: look at every story about how Barney's and Macy's and so on treat black shoppers with suspicion and detain them.

The Kametra Barbour link - the black woman with her kids pulled over - was terrifying. When she's walking backwards in the dark toward the cops...terrifying. And then they have the gall to say not just her car but her plates match a suspect description. The description of a tan car with four black males "waving guns around." Oh really? Liars.

I had to look up where that happened and was totally unsurprised to discover it was the part of the state that my mother's side of the family comes from. There are plenty of places in east Texas where the end of Jim Crow is fairly superficial.
posted by immlass at 8:01 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


I'm not really sure that what this thread was missing was a "but what about the white people" comment.

Jeez, what led you to believe that was my intention? I meant that everyone should be concerned about these issues regardless of their race. This isn't just a black man being harassed -- it could be anyone.

I'm so over the attitude here. Enjoy your stifled little conversations.
posted by nowhere man at 8:07 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: "Holy fuck."

Once that fucking pig shows up instantly my body speaks forth in a whispered anger "Jesus FUCK!" (Roomies are sleeping otherwise it'd probably be a huge shout).

Goddamn this man better get some fucking pay to compensate. I would *hope* the pig gets fired, but you know, you can kill someone and still keep your fucking job, I don't expect any justice on that front.

Fuck the police. Fuck them. They ARE the enemy.
posted by symbioid at 8:07 AM on August 30


I posted this in the Ferguson thread (the second one), but it's worth a re-link since it's so apropos.

Maybe the other guy was in a bad place, too. Maybe he had kids, too. Maybe he had a sad story, too.

I went home. The other guy didn't.

That's white privilege.

White privilege sent me home to my kids.

White privilege is the reason I've never told this story publicly.

Extenuating personal circumstances, aside, I did something that I should not have done, and I escaped the consequences of my actions by accepting a benefit that never should have been bestowed.

posted by rtha at 8:10 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Also that Maine "open carry" guy was such a over-entitled prick. I'm glad he got hassled by the cops but it is a truly incredible contrast to some of this other stuff. If he was black, he would have been tackled to the ground as soon as more than one cop was on the scene.

I don't disagree with any of this, but the prick was absolutely right, and a lot of people who carry guns (including an ex of mine, who is relatively notorious for his advocacy, smh) walk around with encyclopedic knowledge of their rights. Unfortunately, a person of color challenging a cop is not going to be respected or even tolerated for doing so.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:22 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Why call human rights "privilege"? Rights are not privileges.

But they are acknowledged or violated because of privilege. Because of prejudice. Because of racism. We can't just pretend those things don't exist or don't matter; we can't just pretend that this could happen to anyone, because mostly, it really doesn't. The violations happen for reasons; if you want to put the focus on the perpetrators, then you have to be willing to say (and take heat for) that the reason they perpetrate this kind of thing is because they are racists operating in a white supremacist system. Which they are.
posted by rtha at 8:23 AM on August 30 [9 favorites]


Look, every American has the same set of rights. However, the recognition and the fulfillment of those rights is very largely dependent on their class, the color of their skin, who their parents are, sometimes their sexual orientation, sometimes their gender identity, their level of education, etc. And the most obvious of these to pinpoint is race. It's not something (usually) that you can hide. So when we talk about white privilege, that's the ability not to have your rights questioned, or your motives questioned.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:32 AM on August 30 [4 favorites]


"But they are acknowledged or violated because of privilege."

No, they're not.

They're violated because of, like you said,

"Because of prejudice. Because of racism."


" if you want to put the focus on the perpetrators, then you have to be willing to say (and take heat for) that the reason they perpetrate this kind of thing is because they are racists operating in a white supremacist system"

Yeah. Exactly. So why isn't this the case? Why do we say "white privilege" instead?

Like the story to which you linked to. That's not an example of "white privilege". That's an example of racist cops making up a story to give an official reason for themselves to arrest a black guy.

The writer calls it "white privilege" but the story doesn't shout "privilege". It shouts "Holy shit, they're literally trying to rewrite the situation just to arrest a guy because he's black even though he did nothing wrong." I'm trying to see where he explicitly points out the racism of the cops. Where he just flat out says that they were violating the black guy's rights because he was black. But, no, he just blames himself. Says something to the effect of "yeah, white privilege kept me out of a bad situation" and.... That's it.
posted by I-baLL at 8:32 AM on August 30


I don't understand why a situation can't be both racist and someone exercising their privilege.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:38 AM on August 30 [5 favorites]


[Folks, let's let the terminology discussion go, please. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 8:51 AM on August 30 [9 favorites]


Also that Maine "open carry" guy was such a over-entitled prick. I'm glad he got hassled by the cops but it is a truly incredible contrast to some of this other stuff. If he was black, he would have been tackled to the ground as soon as more than one cop was on the scene.

I'm NOT glad he got hassled. I'm against open carry, and in most cases, against concealed carry. However, because the state of Maine has (unwisely in my view) given him the right to openly carry a firearm, he is merely exercising that right. He is not suspected of committing a crime. By stopping him and seizing(even temporarily) his gun, the cop violated his rights. That's an abuse of power. That's never okay.

I'm also against calling someone an over-entitled prick just because they have educated themselves on what their rights are. It's a shame that more of us don't do that. It's like hating on the smart kid in class just because you didn't do your own homework. I agree with everyone here that the encounter would have gone radically differently if this had been a person of color. We want everyone's rights to be protected. I know that doesn't currently happen. It won't ever happen if we don't stand up for the existence and the constitutionality of those rights in the first place.
posted by marsha56 at 10:05 AM on August 30 [11 favorites]


I'll have to test video uploading and Dropbox.

Google Drive seems to automatically upload my pictures and videos to my cloud drive. I don't even remember asking it to. But it's fine with me. Saves me a lot of hassle, and, who knows, maybe will document an interaction with the po-po some day.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:14 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


From the article:

The statement, attributed to police Chief Thomas Smith, said police had responded to a report of Lollie trespassing in a private area and tried to talk to him, and he wouldn't cooperate.

"Our officers are called upon and required to respond to calls for assistance and to investigate the calls," Smith said. "At one point, the officers believed he might either run or fight with them.


So the problem was that he might have been trespassing. And then the problem was that he might try to stop trespassing by leaving.

Talk about black-if-you-do, black-if-you-don't.

White guy here. I've done more than my share of maybe-trespassing-maybe-not-but-definitely-being-on-property-where-the-public-right-of-way-is-disputed-and-I-am-not-wanted-there-by-the-property-owner, and I've been able to just walk away if things got heated.
posted by univac at 10:53 AM on August 30 [11 favorites]


Hello 911; I'm in the mall; one of your police is frightening me, they seem very angry and enraged; I do not know why; I have provided them my ID, ...

And that is all of a sudden on 911 tape; and ready to be released to the media within days.

Police; they need to be solving actual crimes; leave people alone, stop trying to literally start fights, ...

I hope this guy banks large in his lawsuit.
posted by buzzman at 11:08 AM on August 30


Also that Maine "open carry" guy was such a over-entitled prick. I'm glad he got hassled by the cops...

You know, another way to look at this is that rights are like muscles. Somebody has to exercise them, or else they atrophy. Maybe if more people did things like open-carry weapons, fewer cops would kidnap and arrest innocent parents. I think a more broadly-based understanding of our rights not to get detained without reasonable suspicion, and our rights not to get arrested without probable cause, would be good for everyone -- and it seems to me that we've reached the point where some number of law enforcement officers need a refresher course.

I've read where some members of the Congressional Black Caucus may push for a "police czar" to improve the conduct of LEOs. I am skeptical that any kind of federal funding, oversight, or new bureaucracy will have anywhere near as much impact on the problem we're discussing as citizen activism. Say what you want about over-entitled pricks who know their rights; they have the potential to be a powerful force for reform.
posted by Mr. Justice at 11:35 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


I'm so over the attitude here. Enjoy your stifled little conversations.
That's part of the problem #17...
We can't fix everything at once (sigh) but by focusing on this part of the problem, we can take first steps against BOTH the larger issues of general police abuse and systemic racism.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:57 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


White guy here. I've done more than my share of maybe-trespassing-maybe-not-but-definitely-being-on-property-where-the-public-right-of-way-is-disputed-and-I-am-not-wanted-there-by-the-property-owner, and I've been able to just walk away if things got heated.

Christ, I've probably told this story before here, but one time as a teenager when my friends had scaled to the roof of a strip mall at 2am and I waited as lookout (cuz I can't climb) while they smashed lightbulbs that were stored up there for some reason. Cops show up, catch us, take our info and say they may charge us with trespassing. my friends tell them "Hoopo didn't do anything, he was just on his way home", and this one cop says to me "it doesn't matter, you're an accessory". I say to him "accessory to trespassing?" And not in a polite way, in a snarky asshole teenager way, and he says "GO HOME".

This...probably would have gone differently if I weren't white.
posted by Hoopo at 12:37 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Also, all the links to Mr. Lollie as a 'kitten-cute' black man are racist. Piss on that noise. He's not your fucking pet.
There are a lot of black men who don't photograph so appealingly to whites.


Where is the kitten cute link? Also I don't think it's so out of bounds to mention that black people who look and dress differently than Mr Lollie can often end up being treated (unfairly) much worse, and that there's a certain mainstream or inoffensive to whites or whatever appeal to him that helps him out in this situation. I've had black friends who've talked to me at length about this - just because it's unfair doesn't mean we should pretend it doesn't happen.

Also there's something really off and condescending to me about how many comments we've had from white people about how charmed their interactions with the police are because they're so cute and bright white and light bendingly white and so on. I understand it's sort of an ironic "that's what THOSE people say" sort of sentiment but to me it reinforces stereotypes of white =inoffensive, safe, and conventionally most attractive = "I'm just a cute, pretty little white girl!"

I fall into the same trap, being a "small Asian American" or whatever, but I do try to think about it.
posted by sweetkid at 12:55 PM on August 30


sweetkid, I've read those comments more as a recognition of their privilege, like "boy, it's only by an accident of birth that I wasn't totally fucked when this happened." But maybe I didn't pick up on a nuance somewhere in one of the comments.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:39 PM on August 30 [6 favorites]


When I fled to the 'burbs I took a few of my sketchy neighborhood habits with me. The 1971 pickup truck didn't quite fit in but didn't scream "outsider" so much because the rich pond scum do need servants to fix their toilets, so you see vehicles like that on the road. But the car was a 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood, in excellent mechanical condition but cleverly un-maintained externally so as to look uninsured and worthless. It fairly screamed DRUG DEALER.

And as I related back on kuro5hin, for some years I made a regular habit of commuting to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to do casino stuff. This usually meant rolling home between midnight and 1 AM, and you can't get to my house without passing a major Y intersection with a convenience store where the cops like to hang out. So it happened that five years in a row, shortly after the local police academy graduated and the hiring occured, I got pulled over at the exact same spot half a mile from home for "weaving."

The first four times this happened as soon as I rolled down the window the Awesome Power of White flew in with its teeth glinting and cape flapping in the breeze, and Officer Friendly warned me to take it easy and sent me on my way.

But the fifth time the Awesome Power of White took one on the chin from Asshole Bully Losing Face. This cop decided that since I wasn't the nice meaty drug dealer he thought he was going to bust he'd at least snag himself a DUI. What he didn't know was that advantage play gambling and over-drinking don't go well together and I'd have had to blow three times to get to 0.3.

So he made me get out of the car and ran the field sobriety tests, becoming increasingly belligerent and puzzled as it became clear how sober I was. He was very in my face about it, repeatedly violating my body space in ways he didn't have to to conduct the test. In the middle of this the radio squawked and the cop on the other end was audibly laughing as he related the results of my license plate run.

Anyway when it became clear I wasn't going to push back on his repeated provocations, he said "All right, I'm gonna let you slide this time." To which I almost snapped "Don't do me any favors," but I bit it off.

That was, it turned out, the last time the pimpmobile got pulled over in my new home town. I suspect someone decided the fun was over and they were dangerously close to creating a pattern I might complain about, and the new hires started getting a heads-up about the funky Cadillac dude.

Anyway, that brings me to another story which I am about 80% sure is about the same guy. Several yaers later I was fixing some equipment at one of the state highway scales, and since the scale was out of commission the cops were shooting the bull while I did my thing. "Hey, do you remember the time they assigned Barney to Mandeville?" one story began, and my ears perked up.

Barney had a bit of an attitude and he didn't understand that our fair town is the refuge where assorted CEO's, lawyers, football players, and other rich pond scum flee to when they get tired of the ambience of the city. So he was doing security at this bar on the lakefront, and this shitfaced dude sloshes over to him and goes "If you washnt wearin that gun I'd kick yer ash."

And instead of moving the guy along Barney unholsters his gun, hands it to the bartender for safe keeping, and proceeds to kick the drunk's ass. Afterward, though, it developed that the drunk was a pretty prominent lawyer and everybody totally lost their sense of humor about it.

"So we we had to move Barney back to LaPlace," was the punch line.

Because, you know, it's okay to be an asshole cop with an attitude problem as long as your city isn't full of rich people who are prone to sue you for your shit.
posted by localroger at 1:40 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


One booze-soaked night, a long-ass time ago, an equally stinko acquaintance (whom I had just met) and I determined our best course of action
was to decorate a construction front with the cans of neon pink, green and hi-way orange spray paint he had discovered resting atop a city trash can.

We exchanged a fifth of cheap hi-test bourbon (mine) and a pipe loaded with something that appeared to be hash (his) as we gleefully sprayed and sprayed...
until a woman leaned out from her third story apartment window across the street from us and yelled "COPS!!"
I discarded the now empty bottle in the narrow plywood hallway while my new buddy clacked the pipe against his heel then dropped it into a hip pocket.
Of course the cops in their cruiser arrived pronto. Of course we forgot to ditch the spray paint.
I was summoned to the police who was driving - my New Buddy to the cop in the shotgun seat.

The cops didn't bother getting out of their cruiser.

"We have a report of two individuals vandalizing a construction shed," driver cop told me.
My fingers were stained with the paint. I was holding one of the cans. I reeked guilt the way a barn burner reeks of gasoline.
I determined my best course of action was to confess and hope for the best.
My Cop: May I see your ID please...
Me: Yessir.
(Ditto from other cop to New Buddy.)
NB: I don't have to show you anything! (then to me,) "Don't show him your ID!!!".
My Cop: So what are you doing here this morning?
NB: You asshole. Don't tell them anything! No! Fuck YOU! I don't have to show you my ID!
Me: Well, my friend and I decided we should pep up this bland plywood with some color that we found. It's an art project.
NB: ( continues to harangue me and the cop in the shotgun seat simultaneously.)
My Cop: (reviewing my ID card) It's malicious mischief. Is this your correct address?
Me: Yup.
My Cop: Have you been drinking?
Me: Absolutely, sir, very much so.
My Cop: Where is it?
Me: What?
Shotgun Cop: (Leans over to address me, ignoring new buddy and his hollering.) You're very cooperative tonight
Me: I'm hoping to avoid a ticket, or a trip to jail.
Shotgun Cop: You need to pick better friends. (Turns back to deal with my indignant New Buddy)
My Cop: Where's your bottle?
Me: You're looking at it.
My Cop: (chuckles, then returns my ID card) You live right around the corner from here.
Me: Yessir, I do, and I'd like to go there right now.
( New Buddy is arguing with the cop and also asserting that he'll kick my ass the next time he sees me.)
My Cop: Go home. Now. If I see you out here again this morning, I'll arrest you.
Me: Adioski!

(New Buddy continues hollering at me, threats, etc. Shotgun cop gets out, cuffs NB, opens the back door of the cruiser and shoves NB inside).

EXIT COPS: backstage.
EXIT ME: stage left.

The cop didn't even bother to run my ID...
I went back to my tiny apartment, as ordered, and turned out the lights.
I pressed a fresh nug into the little jade pipe Mike had forgotten, then opened a cold tall-boy from the mini-fridge.
My cat hopped in from the roof garden. It appeared he was glad I was finally home.
We played the flashlight game while Jug Ammons played his lonely saxophone until I passed out.
posted by Pudhoho at 2:12 PM on August 30 [6 favorites]


Jeez, what led you to believe that was my intention? I meant that everyone should be concerned about these issues regardless of their race. This isn't just a black man being harassed -- it could be anyone.

I'm so over the attitude here. Enjoy your stifled little conversations.


here is a handy-dandy flowchart for people of color who want to discuss racism with an attitude that impresses the nowhere men of the world:

    +-----------------------------+
    |                             |                                         +-----------------------+
    | Does what happened to you   |Not really                               |  Youre exaggerating/ |
    | ever happen to a white      |---------------------------------------->|  making it up         |
    | person?                     |                                         |                       |
    |                             |                                         |                       |
    |                             +                                         |                       |
    |                             |                                         +--^---------+----------+
    |                             |                                            |         |
    |                             |                                            |         |I dont think I am,
    +--------------+--------------+                                            |         |actually
                   |                                                           |         v
                   |Sometimes     +--------------------------------------------+       +-------------------+
                   |              |   Not a sole factor, but there are some key        | You are.          |
                   |              |     differences between my experience and theirs   |                   |
                   v              |    which--                                         |                   <+
     +----------------------------|                                                    +                   ||
     | Race is not a factor       |                                                    |-------------------+|
     |                            |                                                    | +                  |
     |                            |                                                    | |                  |
     |                            +                                                    | |                  |
     |                            +                                                    | |     But--        |
     |                            |                                                    | +------------------+
     |                            |                                                    |      (repeat n times)
     |                            |                                                    |
     +-------------++-------------+                                                    |
                   |  Okay, maybe not                                                  |
                   |                                                                   |
                   |                                                                   |
                   |                                                                   |
                   |                                                                   |
                   |                                                                   |
                   |                                                                   |
                   |                                                                   |
                   |                                                                   |
                   |                                                                   |
                   |                        +---------------------------------+<-------+
                   |                        |                                 |
                   |                        |                                 |
                   |                        |NOT RACIST                       |
                   |                        |                                 |
                   +----------------------->|                                 |
                                            |                                 |
                                            |                                 |
                                            |                                 |
                                            +---------------------------------+

posted by kagredon at 2:25 PM on August 30 [6 favorites]


> All that's required for a weapons patdown, for example, is reasonable suspicion.

No. Reasonable and articulable suspicion. Walking around at 4 A.M. or in a neighborhood where there's a lot of drug dealing might be generally suspicious, but the detaining officer must have "articulable facts" about why his or her suspicions are raised that a particular crime was just, is being or is about to be committed. "fit the description" is one such fact and is B.S., but that's why you'll hear it a lot.

They can't go in your pockets, unless they find something that feels like a weapon (which everything will). This exception to the fourth amendment (4A) is supposed to be for "officer safety".

They can also search your belongings without a warrant for that same trump card. It's a mess-- if your backpack out of reach, ¿maybe? they aren't supposed to search it. It's also supposed to be a quick search- open & peek in (for the uzi sitting right on top of the clothes. Yes, that's happened). You also have to have an expectation of privacy of the contents. If you say it's someone else's bag, you're liable for the contents, but you don't have 4A protection against their search & seizure.

The motor vehicle exception to needing warrants when there's Probable Cause (which an unverifiable drug dog can provided) is another weird attempt at balance by SCOTUS.

> In the case of this incident, I think the police argument is that they witnessed a crime (trespassing) and are thus legally able to require him to provide ID.

It depends on the state and how trespassing is defined. In some, if you leave, it's over. In some, you can be "trespassed" and they can ID you so if you trespass again, they can arrest you without a warning first.

> what is the protocol for bringing suit in this sort of situation ? Would he sue the police department? Could he sue the officers involved directly?

It's a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 "color of law" federal civil rights lawsuit. To sue the cops directly, you have to "disqualify" their qualified immunity. A blog covering QI vs 4A shows that police behavior has be really egregious.

---

Police don't need your permission to search, just your lack of interference. They want permission so the search can't be contested later and so they don't have to wait for a drug dog. You might not want to wait either. You also might not want to subject yourself, car or house to a destructive "retaliatory" search.
posted by morganw at 2:48 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


Well you can put me in the "acknowledging my privilege" camp.

It's not denying racism to point out that cops are capable of abusing anybody. If you are adding up points toward that threshold where you get butt-surfed by the system, being black is worth a lot right up front no matter what kind of person you are. That's a burden white people don't live with.

But there are other factors like the neighborhood where you live, your car, your clothes, your hair and body decorations, your attitude, the fact that the random cop you meet has had a bad day or is generally an asshole, that can add up too.

What is so damning about the fact that sometimes a nearly squeaky-clean white person gets to that threshold is that a black person can much more easily find themselves on the wrong side without doing anything.

It is possible for more than one problem to exist in the world at the same time. The problem that cops are assholes who lie and abuse people should be fixed. The problem that black people are abused more regularly, in general, than whites should be fixed. But in cases like the OP the horror is that someone found themselves in a situation where these problems got multiplied together.

And both problems should be addressed, but neither of them will be addressed effectively if they aren't seen accurately as separate issues.
posted by localroger at 2:49 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


I don't know if that's a response to what I wrote, localroger but I can't identify anything that is a response to what I wrote except "acknowledging privilege camp."

So people write comment after comment about how great it is that they're white when dealing with police - then what? I have a (white) friend who posts comments on FB about how she's teaching her son about police racism - and she posts these dialogues where she says things like "this guy did x bad thing and the cops got called" and her kid is like "let me guess the guy was white and nothing happened" and she gets 200 favorites and comments about how great she and her kid are - and it's not like I don't think that's a good thing to some degree but then what?

it feels like she's setting her kid up to feel bad whenever he meets black people that life must be so bad for them - but that's a pretty condescending way to go about life.

That's what I feel like these comments are like in this thread - the "things are great for me because I'm white" signal is very loud, very sharp, but the "and here's what else" is very, very quiet or I'm not hearing it.
posted by sweetkid at 3:02 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


It's not denying racism to point out that cops are capable of abusing anybody.

Oh yes it is. It's just another canard tossed into the mix in order to deny racism exists as an institution.
All of the other hoo-hah you mentioned are just outliers on the scatter plot.

The incidences of brutality committed by the police against white people is minuscule when compared to the total war inflicted upon black people.
White people also have the resources to fight back more effectively when they are wronged.

I absolutely agree that several problems exist simultaneously. We have three balls in the air, here in America: racism, misogyny, and class.
And it's not like the fire triangle, where we can eliminate one to extinguish the others.
We must eliminate all three, as a set. Otherwise the status quo continues to smolder until it re-ignites, and bursts back into flame.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:10 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


Oh yes it is.

Well all I can say pudhoho is that the actual career State Policeman who told me that I was right despite my lily whiteness to be wary of the police disagrees with you. Being black or of the wrong class is an additional problem which makes the other problem worse, but the police can be and are assholes to anybody. And I was told this by an actual cop.
posted by localroger at 3:15 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


the "things are great for me because I'm white" signal is very loud

The signal I"m hearing is "shit, I'm white and I almost got hosed, if I'd been black I probably wouldn't be here to leave this post."

To cast that as a denial of racism is rather ... weird.
posted by localroger at 3:18 PM on August 30 [6 favorites]


I didn't cast that as a denial of racism. It's kind of offensive even though it's well intentioned is what I'm saying.
posted by sweetkid at 3:21 PM on August 30


I've watched you burrow rabbit holes in other threads in order to side-track rational discussion - especially threads that address misogyny.

You're a smart man, and you contribute a lot to other discussions. But not here you don't.
I'm not going to argue with you. I refuse to follow you down your rabbit holes, and I hope everyone else here does the same.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:23 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


It's kind of offensive even though it's well intentioned is what I'm saying.

Is this because it's not, like, my topic so I'm not allowed to comment on it? Because I don't think that's how Metafilter is supposed to work.

You're a smart man, and you contribute a lot to other discussions. But not here you don't.

Why don't you just live a little and say "fuck you?"

I get the message. I guess this really isn't the board it was until recently. See you under better circumstances and all that, I think I might need to spend more time writing another Singularity novel.
posted by localroger at 3:40 PM on August 30


In my case, I was pointing out that despite being pulled over for totally justifiable reasons and not having my driver's license, I was treated courteously and let off with a verbal warning. The fact that my self-presentation is that of a junior librarian from 1956 should not be the deciding factor in whether cops behave decently to me or not, but that appears to be what's happening.

People who do not have the option of resembling a junior librarian from 1956, or who choose not to, deserve to be treated decently no less than I.

(and I should note that, while I have had vastly fewer negative interactions with cops than most people I know, that does not mean they never happen. For instance, in college I witnessed a bike cop clothesline a kid who got mouthy, and was told to clear off if I didn't want to be next. This only confirms my belief that anyone who belongs to any class at all that cops consider suspect-- in that case, college students on a weekend night-- is fair game for ill treatment. And the categories they use to make those determinations are racist as hell.)

By accident of circumstance, I meet the arbirtrary, artificial respectability requirements that many cops seem to use to determine who gets to be treated like a human being. That is bullshit. Everyone deserves to be treated the way cops typically treat me.
posted by nonasuch at 3:42 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


This is an excellent interview with Chris "Minnesota Fr3sh" Lolli on "Filter Free Amerika" - I don't think it's been posted.

He's a pretty neat sounding guy and he gives his account of what happened, including a lot of detail that isn't reflected in the news stories.

For those who wonder why he might have started out suspiciously right away - ahem -it could be the two prior horrifying experiences he had with cops. That's why he knew to film this one.

It's long but worth a listen.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:44 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


I used to experience quite a lot of British military checkpoints when I was younger (and still living in Northern Ireland). They felt a lot safer than this looked.
posted by knapah at 3:48 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


I think I can understand what you're saying, sweetkid. By publicizing your mindblowing recognition of a sociological reality that's hugely obvious to anyone who lives it, you get points for being progressive. And while it's an important initial step, that recognition is based on a certain framing of the problem that's broad and shallow, and might unintentionally reassert the stereotypes that feed into the problem, if from the flip side. There are specific groups and individuals working constructively in particular actions, and it's maybe not so progressive to wash over them with bleeding sentiment, which is pretty cheap without further action.

I sort of feel that way about some men who make a hullabaloo about being feminists. I mean, excellent, thank you, go on, be feminist, help to raise awareness, post articles if you want, it's good for people to know men are feminists -- but I don't know, stated too strongly, it feels a bit glib and inauthentic. Some humility about it might be appropriate. I'd sort of rather people who never experienced street harassment leave more of the definitional space to people who have.

On the other hand, I'm not sure it's helpful to be too cynical about any movement towards recognition, even if it's a bit clumsy. You can show people "what then".
posted by cotton dress sock at 3:55 PM on August 30 [6 favorites]


I think I get where sweetkid is coming from. Providing further information about one's whiteness is just kind of unnecessary: so the question becomes, why do it?

It's kind of like if you're a white person, you're pretty much a white person, and you don't get extra bonus points for being Super White because, I don't know, you tick all the boxes on the Things White People Like kind of stereotype chart.

If there's really something unique about your whiteness that's relevant to your point, sure, go ahead and include it because it's relevant, but otherwise it's sufficient to just say "I'm white." It's not as if being really white and blonde or ultra white and nerdy (or whatever) is the difference between being hassled by the cops and ultimately arrested like Chris Lolli was and not. The implicit statement is "I'm so white that I must enjoy all kinds of crazy privilege that even most white folks don't," and it's hard to see why that really matters. Under normal circumstances it's sufficient just to be white to enjoy this privilege, not so white.

That's why I can see how it's weird to include in these anecdotes the additional information about super-whiteness. It would be different if people could articulate how being Super White was meaningful in these situations, but I haven't really seen that here, I guess.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:03 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


MoonOrb, I think it actually relates somewhat to interactions I've had with cops where I did *not* have the benefit of my usual self-presentation. The class of people who are typically well-treated by cops is really, really narrow, and basically boils down to "people who look white and affluent and 'normal,' whatever the fuck that means."

So virtually all of my friends in the DC punk scene-- which is mostly white-- have had horrible interactions with cops. Those who are identifiably queer have even more horror stories.

You're right that I shouldn't be framing my typically good treatment as the result of having a +1 Shield of Nice White Ladyness, because that does sound self-congratulatory for something that I obviously did nothing to earn and do not deserve. It's more like everyone but me got handed a loaded die that consistently fucks up their saving throws.
posted by nonasuch at 4:24 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Oh yes it is. It's just another canard tossed into the mix in order to deny racism exists as an institution.

It's not really, and you yourself go on to agree that multiple problems can exist simultaneously, so maybe you shouldn't take such offense that there are multiple takes on this. I myself have been accused of "tossing a canard" into this thread and yet I have a second job on this site talking about and pointing out systemic racism. It's akin to being trolled.

I don't want to go to bat for another user, but it seems like some people are trying to build on the racist angle, not supplant or eliminate it. There are political, cultural and even psychological needs and desires that underlie and drive systemically racist policies that may at times threaten all of us and affect us in different ways, even conceptually. I'm not even sure the answer is to only focus on race and reprimand people that look at other moving parts of the institutional problem. Perhaps there is something to see there, and these "unseen problems" need all the light they can get.

There is also the issue of McCleskey v. Kemp, which as Michelle Alexander puts it, "has immunized the criminal justice system from judicial scrutiny for racial bias. It has made it virtually impossible to challenge any aspect, criminal justice process, for racial bias in the absence of proof of intentional discrimination, conscious, deliberate bias. Now, that's the very type of evidence that is nearly impossible to come by today... But the U.S. Supreme Court has said that the courthouse doors are closed to claims of racial bias in the absence of that kind of evidence, which has really immunized the entire criminal justice system from judicial and to a large extent public scrutiny of the severe racial disparities and forms of racial discrimination that go on every day unchecked by our courts and our legal process."

So this is a conversation that not only are we having a hard time talking about sometimes, but is as a matter of law not being addressed on an institutional level by a group or organ that could do some good or provide relief. This has the effect of polarizing experiences and conversations along racial lines to the public's detriment, in my opinion, simply because there is no guiding principle in place. Whether Lollie files suit and wins some money, whether the next guy is lucky enough to have a recording device on him and gets his charges dropped - these are not "real" answers driven by principle. If anything it seems departments have set aside lawsuit money and maintain the status quo. This is the new SNAFU.
posted by phaedon at 4:37 PM on August 30 [4 favorites]


This is an excellent interview with Chris "Minnesota Fr3sh" Lolli on "Filter Free Amerika" - I don't think it's been posted.

Man, I cannot wait to meet this guy.
posted by Bacon Bit at 4:46 PM on August 30


nonasuch, that makes sense, and I also wonder if whether it follows from what you're saying that the unacceptable police behavior isn't race-based, but class-based, because I think what I take away from your comment is that you/your friends don't enjoy white privilege in interactions with police unless you're a certain kind of white (non-punk).

I can't directly dispute this, I guess, but when I think about Lolli's experience, what I see and hear in the audio and video makes me really skeptical that a white person of any sort would have been treated the same way as Lolli was by these particular police officers.

It can be true that police behave in classist ways as well as racist ways, but classism doesn't seem to have anything to do with what Lolli experienced. At least, that's my interpretation of his cell phone video.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:59 PM on August 30




Another very disturbing fact about all this is that, as far as I could tell, not one by-stander stepped up to help Mr. Lollie when the cops were harassing him. That is really scary.
posted by chance at 5:26 PM on August 30


This is an excellent interview with Chris "Minnesota Fr3sh" Lolli on "Filter Free Amerika" - I don't think it's been posted.

The interview includes 6 minutes of audio from the arrest. Listening to it, I'm weeping with rage and sorrow. What the hell do we do to make this shit stop?

Another very disturbing fact about all this is that, as far as I could tell, not one by-stander stepped up to help Mr. Lollie when the cops were harassing him. That is really scary.

I'm going to go make sure my Ustream app is up to date and my account settings are valid. I think it's unlikely I'd ever directly intervene with the cops myself, but if I see them arresting somebody and anything seems off, one thing I can do is to video them doing it. And IIRC, Ustream fixed the app a while ago so if a transmission gets shut off abruptly — like, say, the cops grab your phone and shut it off — the video is still saved on the servers so you can get it later.
posted by Lexica at 5:57 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


My friend is white. He's also transgender. And if you think a person of color is the only person who is forced into a position of abject terror at the idea of even making eye contact with a police officer, you're wrong.

There are, however, a lot more people being harassed based on their skin color than there are on their gender status, so the racist angle is, percentage-wise, solid.

But it doesn't have to be either/or! In fact, nothing could be more dangerous than restricting the outrage to the abuse suffered only by one group; even if that problem were 100% solved, which is impossible, the abuse would simply shift to another minority - what kind of improvement is that?

Police must be demilitarized, deredneckized, debullyized, and fumigated, if necessary, until they get back to "protect" and "serve"; no discrimination regarding race, gender, religion, sexual preference, hairstyle, weight, health/disability status, age, and all the rest. Nothing less than that will make a bit of difference in the long run. The twisted sort of mentality that allows a person to threaten and bully and harass another person will not change just because they're no longer allowed to bully Black people, or homosexuals, or the poor or homeless; that sicko personality will just keep hunting for a new group to pick on.

It really is time to stick together instead of allowing ourselves to be broken into smaller groups, smaller groups always being easier to ignore and easier to trample. This is one old white woman who will cheerfully beat the crap out of any cop or anyone else she sees brutalizing another person - but I will be filming it, for sure.

I hate bigotry and I hate bullies - and I don't hate much. When cops are bullies and bigots, they need to be fired first and arrested for their assaultive behavior second.
posted by aryma at 6:35 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


I want to add one more thing:

I recognize that I am an old white woman who has much less to lose if she decides to intervene between an out-of-control police officer and a person who's taking a beating. I never would have even considered getting involved physically when I had children at home and people depending on my care and I am not suggesting that anyone other than myself should be willing to risk their own wellbeing by interfering; that would be an individual decision and not my call.

I do think that cellphones and their ability to film and immediately send the clip are wonderful because they can be used so effectively to tighten the reins on this madness. If you have people who are depending on your care and you don't want to step into the middle of the fight, that's understandable, but if you can do it safely, please consider filming the incident and sending it to the internet if you should encounter such a thing. Your camera has a lot of power and now that everyone's carrying one, that's a lot of power on the side of justice.

Sorry about the length, but I wanted to wiggle my way out of anyone interpreting my inclination to use my umbrella on a crazy cop as a judgement that everyone else should do the same.

Now for my TV dinner ...
posted by aryma at 6:59 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


I reek of privilege as much as the next white, overweight, over 60 senior citizen type.

I am more afraid of interactions with traffic cops in the USA than I ever was of my interactions with the Stasi when I (regularly) crossed the East German border with contraband during the Cold War.

This is just fucked up.
posted by pjern at 7:02 PM on August 30 [18 favorites]


Sorry if I came across as a preening twit above. I'd meant my example as acknowledgement of one specific time when racism unfairly benefited me--but, as others have pointed out, acknowledgement of the problem isn't much use without further action to help solve the problem.

It would probably be for the best on this if I talk less and listen more, as obviously I've got a lot of learning to do still. Next would be to revisit the various posts people have made about what people who want to be allies can usefully do.
posted by johnofjack at 7:28 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Jesus, my childhood was sheltered as fuck, then.

And I say this as someone whose dad played in blues bands and so wasn't exactly in the dark about some of the sketchier activities/stories coming out of the minority-majority clubs/neighborhoods where they played, etc. I wasn't raised in Beverly Hills.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:52 PM on August 29


Remember how shocked--shocked!--some men were to learn that sexual harassment was happening at San Diego Comic Con and other conventions?

And remember how a lot of women were all, "You've got to be kidding us; you didn't notice?! Where the hell have you been?"

Same kind of thing.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:01 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


sweetkid: That's what I feel like these comments are like in this thread - the "things are great for me because I'm white" signal is very loud, very sharp, but the "and here's what else" is very, very quiet or I'm not hearing it.

Step 1: Acknowledge problem.

Step 2: Do something about problem.

Percent of people who can do Step 2 without Step 1: 0%.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:11 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


Percent of people who think doing Step 1 is enough... WAY too high.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:16 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


Agreed. And I'm not saying we have to give out cookies to any white person who comes into a thread and acknowledges they have it good when it comes to interacting with the cops. But for all you and I know, the same people are also taking other steps to improve things. Maybe they've donated to HealSTL, maybe they spoke up when they were walking and saw a cop going too far... who the hell knows. All I'm saying is I don't see anything wrong in principle with chiming in and adding a data point.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:20 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


"You've got to be kidding us; you didn't notice?! Where the hell have you been?"

Either perpetrating or enabling the harassment.

Same kind of thing.

Yeah, exactly.

Racism (or really any -ism based on antipathy towards a group of people) is really a solid real-life example of "You are either part of the problem or part of the solution."

I've noticed a weird feeling over the past few years. I'm white, my invisible knapsack is filled with all sorts of extras that other people don't get. And that's gross--everyone should get those extras, at which point they won't be extras. Or we shouldn't get any. Either/or. But I've noticed that my friend/acquaintance circles really are vast majority Caucasian. That bothers me; I want to know a more diverse set of people (lots of diversity in terms of sexuality/gender identity; not so much in terms of skin colour). But, my problem is this: I get--and have gotten very publicly--pissed off at people who "want a gay friend." It's tokenism. If I were to set out specifically to make friends with people of colour, would that not be the same kind of tokenism? That is not a rhetorical question; it is serious, and I think the only people who could give me an honest answer are people of colour.

But, being white, given the entrenched racism in North American culture, of course I'm mostly going to interact with other white people. So the opportunity isn't so much there. So--again, I am asking seriously, this is not to spark a fire nor is it rhetorical--what do I do to gain more racial diversity in my life without being The White Guy Who Wants A Friend Of Colour?

It's a thorny question and I don't know how to answer it. I am hoping that someone can help point me towards an answer. I'd be willing to bet that a lot of Caucasian people feel the same--maybe I'm wrong on that.

I really wish to emphasize that I am asking serious questions here, the answers to which can only serve to educate. I want to be supportive and an ally without engaging in paternalistic colonialist tokenism. How do I do that? How do we as Caucasian people with the privilege that entails do that? (And I am truly sorry if that comes across as "Tell us what to do so we can use our powers to do it for you." It is meant as "Tell us what to do to support you and erase racism.")
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:30 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


Holy shit I just realized.

We're only just a few days past the anniversary of this event. On August 25th, 2009 (55 years ago), jazz legend Miles Davis was assaulted by police outside of Birdland. Kind of Blue had just been released, and Davis' run at Birdland was to promote the new album.

Davis was standing outside Birdland where he'd just performed, and he was taking a break. His name was on the marquee. Police saw him escort a white female friend from the club into a taxi and then a cop approached him as he was taking a smoke break. The cop told him to “move on”. Miles said he was playing at the club and was on break. The cop then said that he would arrest Davis (because Davis gave him "a hard stare") and grabbed him.

Witnesses said that the cop punched Davis in the stomach with his nightstick with no provocation. While two detectives held the crowd back, a third detective approached Davis from behind and beat him on the head. Davis was arrested and taken to jail where he was charged with assaulting an officer. He was then taken to St. Clary Hospital where he received five stitches for a wound on his head.

You can see the results of Davis' encounter with the police here. The story was front-page news

The following October, Davis was acquitted of the charge of disorderly conduct and was likewise acquitted the following January of the charge of third-degree assault. Davis tried to sue the NYPD, but took a plea bargain deal so he could get back his suspended cabaret card and go back to working the New York clubs. He wrote in his autobiography that the incident "changed my whole life and whole attitude again, made me feel bitter and cynical again when I was starting to feel good about the things that had changed in this country."

Fifty-five years later, very little has changed. It's highly appropriate we're talking about the police problems this month, of all months.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:21 PM on August 30 [29 favorites]


"Minnesota does not seem to be listed as a state with stop and identify laws, which is the only thin and conceivable justification I can think of applying here."

Apparently, you should show ID if you are being detained, based on reasonable suspicion of committing a crime... in this case, trespassing. (What the mall security guard reported, apparently.)

First off... was it trespassing? Potentially. It appears to have been a public area, but security guards have considerable leeway, as a representative of the mall, to deny usage of someone to any part of that mall, for most reasons, in the same way that businesses can. Lollie is legally mistaken when he says if there's no sign telling him he can't sit in a certain area, nobody can tell him he can't do so.

Do these laws allow for non-overtly racist treatment to still continue? Yes.

So, when an officer first arrived on scene, assuming he was *potentially* trespassing, the officer would have reasonable suspicion to ask for ID, and absolutely no obligation to state their reasons for doing so.

Do these laws allow for non-overtly racist treatment to still continue? Yes.

We don't know at that point whether the man in question asked if he could go, which he ideally should do before assuming he doesn't have to show ID. At that point, the officer in question decided to follow the man... possibly contacting her fellow officer for the mall.

Lollie walks, talking with and being followed by the initial officer in question, before being intercepted by another officer. That officer tries to stop him from going forward, indicating that if he does so, then he's going to jail. And then he tells him to put his hands behind his back. This is the *first* clear indicator on the video that Lollie is, in fact, being detained, at least temporarily, and is not free to go.

Do these laws allow for non-overtly racist treatment to still continue? Yes.

At this point, the officers claim to have had a hard time restraining Lollie and not getting him to stop trying to get away... and so they did what they did... which legally, they unfortunately had the right to do.

Do these laws allow for non-overtly racist treatment to still continue? OMG yes.

I absolutely understand the anger of people about what happened here, but the problem, ultimately, is that racism is allowed to run amok in our system, from the people who report "suspected crime", to unclear, confrontational cops, to the courts, the prisons, etc. Systemic racism.

This really is the America that everyone grew up in. Injustices are allowed to happen with full legal authority. Most racism isn't overt. Private property rights are sweeping. Police are armed with legal, lethal weaponry, and given significant leeway, with few requirements on how they enforce their duties... and getting angry at this one particular incident doesn't resolve the very difficult legal issues that make institutionalized racism not only possible, but damn near inevitable.

Ideally. I would like to see a law where police would have a voice-activated recorder on their uniform, and would be required to state "I am temporarily detaining you on site, with the goal of answering questions relevant to my investigation. This is not an arrest, and you have the right to remain silent, but..." (basically outlining what a person is required to do in that circumstance, lest they get arrested.)

This won't solve every problem, of course. However, setting clear expectations on what people can and cannot legally do -- and triggering police recording devices, before things get too heated -- would be a big step in the right direction towards accountability. These kinds of laws should be on the ballots *everywhere*, and rather than getting angry again and again until we stop caring, we should goddamn pull together and do something about it.
posted by markkraft at 11:28 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


I want to share all of this with my high school students. If anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them.
posted by kinetic at 4:21 AM on August 31


At this point, the officers claim to have had a hard time restraining Lollie and not getting him to stop trying to get away... and so they did what they did... which legally, they unfortunately had the right to do.

Says you.

Let's hope a big fat civil suit says otherwise.

And I believe we have established this was straight up public property, meaning that security guard, if s/he even exists, had no such leeway as you describe.
posted by spitbull at 4:32 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


It appears to have been a public area, but security guards have considerable leeway, as a representative of the mall, to deny usage of someone to any part of that mall, for most reasons, in the same way that businesses can.

What? No. First of all, as a legal matter, it's pretty rare for people too have leeway. Either they're acting within the bounds of their authority, or they aren't. Secondably, if it's public property (which seems to be true), then there is no mechanism by which reasonable suspicion can accrue. It's the same deal as how you can't get reasonable suspicion that a person in a household has evidence because they refused to let the cops into their house w/out a warrant. Otherwise the only working definition of 'legal action' becomes "whatever the cops tell me to do".

If the cops get a call about trespassing in a somewhat weird area, as the skyways are, they should know before they arrive whether it's public or private. That's the whole point of like institutional memory, they or another cop on duty would have dealt with this exact question before, and know the answer/where to check.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:33 AM on August 31 [7 favorites]


There was a security guard. Lolli gives his own account of what happened before and after the video and talks about his court case in his first interview on what happened - it's long but worth a listen, he sounds like a pretty neat guy.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:39 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]




I want to share all of this with my high school students. If anyone has ideas, I'd love to hear them. kinetic at 7:21 AM

The Ferguson lessons might apply:

How NOT to do it: "teacher suspended after students reenact Ferguson shooting"

from PBS: How to talk to students about Ferguson
posted by surplus at 7:56 AM on August 31


"Well, oops: Here's A Facebook post from the bank inviting people to sit and take five in that hallway."

Does that mean that the actual property there belonged to the bank, or possibly to a corporation that rents or sells space to the businesses in question? That, to me, is the deciding factor in this whole thing.

An area "open for public use" in such an environment, isn't the same as an area that is public property. Representatives of the bank / the mall may have the right to make a complaint. (In some circumstances, there are also laws that can be (mis)used to get people to move even in public areas, though this doesn't appear to be the case here.)

Doing a bit of searching, it appears the owner of the property, as of 2012, is a New York-based real estate company... a company that manages commercial properties. This would be roughly three years after the bank posted to Facebook, inviting their customers to have a seat in that area.

So, the questions to ask are:
- is it part of the bank's space, either leased or owned?
- is it property of the New York property management company?
- is it public property, owned and maintained by the city, designed to connect buildings owned by the N.Y. property management company?
- was the person who contacted the police an employee of the space in question... or was it an over-officious bank security guard, upset about a black guy killing some time on some seating on the skyway outside their property line?

Just because a bank invites customers to use seating five years ago, does not mean that the invitation still applies... or that the right to invite them to sit there was ever really theirs to begin with.
posted by markkraft at 9:13 AM on August 31


No, markkraft, those are not the questions to ask. The questions to ask are:

- why did the police assault this man?
- have those officers been disciplined and/or fired in a meaningful way?
- has the police force taken any steps to address systemic racism?

and

An area "open for public use" in such an environment, isn't the same as an area that is public property. Representatives of the bank / the mall may have the right to make a complaint.

- why did this wannabe mall cop make a complaint about someone sitting peacefully in the first place?
- would this complaint have been made if he'd been Caucasian?

There is not a single thing about property questions here that is even remotely relevant to the treatment of this man. Nothing at all.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:19 AM on August 31 [13 favorites]


markkraft -- read up thread where myself and a few other people made clear that the City of St Paul has an easement which treats the skyway as public property. Functionally the skyway system is a sidewalk.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:19 AM on August 31 [6 favorites]


Also worth thinking about... the police dropped the case. Obviously, witnesses to the tazing could've had an impact on their decision, but here's what I suspect...

A security guard for the bank complained about someone guilty of being suspiciously black, sitting outside and waiting for some time, on the skyway... so he asks the guy to leave, and, when he doesn't, he calls the police. An officer arrives, Lollie gets up and walks away, with the officer following him... and fron the bank's perspective, that's the end of it. Mission accomplished, right?!

...and then the guy gets tazed in the other part of the building. And it goes viral.

So, anyone want to bet that the bank no longer even wants to press charges, but that they don't want to touch this incident with a ten-foot pole, or be remotely associated in any way with what happened?
posted by markkraft at 9:21 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Which leads to yet another actual question that needs to be asked:

-was the wannabe cop fired for his racism? (and/or bringing enormous public shame to the business? It's probably more likely they'd fire him because of the latter, but either way.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:23 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Sort of off topic:

“When I watch this video, I don’t see a car full of young men who are behaving in a manner consistent with fear of the police.”

--Boynton Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Katz in reference to a video where a car of young black men are stopped and harassed, one being pulled from the car and handcuffed, while the others sat under gunpoint. In the video the officer who drew his gun says, “I’ll put a fucking round in your ass so quick,” to one of the young men filming him.

Clearly, if you do not instantly and totally comply with a police officer’s violation of your rights, if you do not fear the police… you have the right to be made to fear them. Which is why we get cops saying a black person was giving them “dehumanizing stares”.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:18 PM on August 31 [8 favorites]


The incidences of brutality committed by the police against white people is minuscule when compared to the total war inflicted upon black people.

If you'd like some numbers on that, the website Cop In The Hood (a police-sympathetic, but generally balanced site) has done a series running the stats, some of them quite damning. The most relevant to this discussion is here:

Blacks are more likely than whites to be shot and killed by police, but probably less so than you'd suspect. 34 percent of those killed by police are African American. But put another way, 62 percent of those killed by police are white. (Actual numbers provided in next post.)

What you want to make of these data probably depends on your ideological persuasion. While the percentage of blacks killed by police (1/3) is disproportionately high compared to the percentage of Americans who are black (about 13%), one-third is low compared to other indicators of violence, such as the percentage of homicide victims and offenders who are African American (about 50 percent, give or take).


It's worth noting, too, that having more officers of color does not seem to improve the situation. The problem is not that cops are blue meanies, it's that cops are encouraged to use maximum force, and not meaningfully punished when innocent people are killed.

As I've noted before, no small number of white people are wrongly killed by police. Some of them, like Michael Bell, have family who successfully fight the police and become activists. Many are simply forgotten, ignored by the media and most other activists, because it doesn't fit the preferred narrative.

This is a real problem, not because "what about the whitez", but because successful activism is a matter of getting disparate communities to push for the same goal. If Midwestern gun nuts who don't wanna show ID, Southern whites whose kids get shot for holding an Wii controller, urban blacks living under police siege, white families who don't want their poor relatives murdered for no good reason (tw for awful police violence), middle-class blacks who don't like being treated like criminals, and white families with mentally ill children all recognized a common interest in implementing policy changes that punish the police for bad behavior, change could happen so fast it'd make your head spin.

But if you keep the discussion focused on why this shooting has nothing in common with those shootings, or why this group shouldn't complain about the police when that group has it worse, or simply indulge in the falsehood that police abuse only happens to "bad" whites, then you're going to get the opposite effect. And your activism will simply be running in place.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:03 PM on August 31 [11 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: It's worth noting, too, that having more officers of color does not seem to improve the situation. The problem is not that cops are blue meanies, it's that cops are encouraged to use maximum force, and not meaningfully punished when innocent people are killed.

Your link does not in any way support your text here, as even Moskos concedes when he says "Again, without a good denominator, this doesn't mean much." Of course, this raises the question of why he'd bother citing absolute numbers without any attempt to characterize them in proportion to the size of the population groups.
posted by tonycpsu at 4:08 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


dehumanizing stares

What a bag of potentially homicidal projection. Cop-dudes, the stares were not dehumanizing you, you were getting the stares because you had already done the dehumanization thing to yourselves.
posted by localroger at 6:00 PM on August 31 [4 favorites]


tonycpsu:

I think the point here, and it's an excellent one, is that ending police brutality will only happen if ALL groups stand together, whether a person thinks his/her group has had it worse than the others or not. If the anti-police-brutality side can be broken down into parts and brought to infighting between themselves, the police can proceed without change; in fact, that is one tactic that will give them MORE excuse for abuse - "breaking up" fights between angry people from Group A and angry people from Group B - whee! Swing those batons!

There is strength in numbers and disaster in division - I firmly believe the only way this situation can change for the better is for people to join hands and stand together. What the police have done to you is what I'm angry about - and vice-versa.

Taking back human rights for all is what it's about.

And don't forget - the devil is in the details. It's easy to find material in the statistics to get upset about and that material can be nitpicked to death - the opening move to separating people into small groups is to get them fighting over details amongst themselves.

I think we do need more police officers of color, but all the police officers we need of any color need to have a 180-degree attitude change from that currently in vogue.
posted by aryma at 8:12 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Yes, but can't you see how it's frustrating and annoying when there is a thread about an issue that bears directly on one group's concerns, and then a majority group (white, male, straight, cisgender, etc.) jumps in to say something like, "hey, this issue touches on [majority group] too, and here's why."

This can be totally true--and even while it's true it co-opts the discussion from the original point of view and drags it into the territory of what the experience is for the majority group. That seems to be what a lot of people react strongly to; it's not the people are even disagreeing that cops can often be shitty to white folks too.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:22 PM on August 31 [7 favorites]


aryma, I know what ThatFuzzyBastard's point was, but when that point is undermined by sloppy data, I'm going to call that out.

Moskos seems to be playing very fast and loose with the numbers to make points that aren't actually borne out by the data. It's a lot more complicated by raw numbers of white people shot by cops, or black people shot by white cops, or whatever. To convincingly make the points Moskos is trying to make, we'd also need to know the racial breakdown of the populations the data comes from, and given that he basically admits that his source data is a giant fucking mess (Hispanics? What are they? How many departments don't have a Hispanic category, and where are they located? Are departments that don't even list an ethnic origin clustered in a particular region?) I have a hard time taking any of his claims at face value.

But, yeah, we all need to work together. No shit. That doesn't mean that we have to elide very real differences in how suspects are treated.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:41 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


"I think the point here . . . is that ending police brutality will only happen if ALL groups stand together."

i.e. Not any time soon.
posted by markkraft at 9:07 PM on August 31


Part of standing together is knowing where your friends stand in relation to you.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:10 PM on August 31 [2 favorites]


If only I had a penguin...: "It's not illegal to be homeless"

Actually, it basically is in many cities.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:52 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


And as a white guy who often looks a bit like a homeless dude, I too have been subject to bullshit police harassment. When I mentioned I had my office a block up the street, you could almost hear the gears creaking in their heads as they tried to backpedal their bullshit.

Fucking cops
posted by Windopaene at 10:21 PM on August 31


From Yahoo! News:

Police in Ferguson, Mo., are now wearing body cameras, and reports suggest that interest in the technology among police departments nationwide has spiked since unrest swept the St. Louis suburb last month...

Nationwide, the trend toward wearable cameras is only in its infancy and shows both the promise of the technology and its shortcomings. Data suggest complaints and violent encounters can decline significantly, but police can also maintain a "blue wall of silence" to prevent public access to the videos...

...wearable-camera technology is subject to abuse. A body camera worn by a member of the Albuquerque Police Department recorded a video of police shooting and killing a homeless man in the back. But a Justice Department investigation of the incident revealed that "officers failed to record some incidents even when it was the officers themselves who initiated the contact, making their failure to switch on their cameras or recorders before beginning the encounter especially troubling."

Police videos can also be kept confidential. Sara Libby of The Atlantic's "City Lab" writes of San Diego's experiment with wearable cameras:


Officers wearing the cameras were present during at least two shootings earlier this year. Yet we're still not any closer to knowing what happened in those chaotic moments....

That's because the department claims the footage, which is captured by devices financed by city taxpayers and worn by officers on the public payroll, aren't public records. Our newsroom's request for footage from the shootings under the California Public Records Act was denied. Once footage becomes part of an investigation, the department says it doesn't have to release them....
posted by magstheaxe at 7:34 AM on September 1 [1 favorite]


From WaPo: Nobody really noticed, but Hillary Clinton has made the boldest comments on Ferguson and race:

...she finally addressed Ferguson on Thursday, during a prepared speech, and it turns out that her comments were among the most substantive compared to what other political leaders have said.

Whereas most Democrats and Republicans, and eventually President Obama, addressed the militarization of the police, Clinton actually went there on an issue that most avoided: racism and the criminal justice system.

...she did what few of her prominent fellow white Democrats have done in the context of Ferguson–she acknowledged the well-known statistics that show that blacks get treated differently than whites when it comes to everything from traffic stops to sentencing.

But rather than just listing the statistics, she got personal by asking whites to put themselves in the shoes of black Americans:

Imagine what we would feel and what we would do if white drivers were three times as likely to be searched by police during a traffic stop as black drivers instead of the other way around. If white offenders received prison sentences ten percent longer than black offenders for the same crimes. If a third of all white men – just look at this room and take one-third – went to prison during their lifetime. Imagine that. That is the reality in the lives of so many of our fellow Americans in so many of the communities in which they live.

posted by magstheaxe at 7:43 AM on September 1 [6 favorites]


A big problem with the discussion is that Hilary Clinton's anodyne "just imagine" yammer is "the boldest comment." That's not even a little bold. "Imagine yourself in their shoes" is a nothing. Bold would be a federal regulation demanding body cameras. Bold would be no precinct with brutality complaints gets shiny military hardware. Bold would be Justice Department civil rights investigations automatically triggered in response to civilian complaints. "Think about your white privilege" is the opposite of bold; it's navel-gazing church talk.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:25 AM on September 1 [7 favorites]


Young men from “Lost Voices” organization woke up to find a noose at their protester campsite yesterday morning (full story)
posted by magstheaxe at 9:48 AM on September 1


"Think about your white privilege" is the opposite of bold; it's navel-gazing church talk.

Given how much pushback this statement gets even right here on this site - how incredibly resistant people are to acknowledging privileges they have - I don't think this is true at all. Yes, the fact that people actually have to be told to put themselves in someone else's shoes is appalling and it shouldn't seem like a radical proposal, but apparently for a lot of people it is exactly that.
posted by rtha at 9:57 AM on September 1 [10 favorites]


This is absolutely terrible of me because I love crowdfunding sites, but I really, really hope everyone who donated to these fundraisers for Darren Wilson is getting scammed.

L.A. Times: After reaching $433,000, donations for Ferguson cop halt mysteriously:

Both pages appear to have stopped taking donations around the same time on Saturday, and the pages' organizers did not explain why. If a visitor attempts to donate, a message appears that says: "Donations are Complete! The organizer has stopped donations."

In a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, a spokeswoman for GoFundMe said the website had not halted the donations.

posted by magstheaxe at 10:05 AM on September 1 [1 favorite]


“Some straight people have gradually changed their attitudes toward gays after realizing that their friends — or children — were gay. Researchers have found that male judges are more sympathetic to women’s rights when they have daughters.

Yet because of the de facto segregation of America, whites are unlikely to have many black friends: A study from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that in a network of 100 friends, a white person, on average, has one black friend.”


"When Whites Just Don’t Get It” (New York Times)
posted by magstheaxe at 10:08 AM on September 1 [2 favorites]


... when encounters occur between armed individuals and autistic males of color, the outcome is disproportionately fatal.

Had my pre-teen, autistic, multiracial son been where Trayvon Martin was on the night he was murdered by George Zimmerman, the outcome would have been the same. Had he been wandering down the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, in the wrong place at the wrong time he would have suffered the same fate as Michael Brown.

Every behavior that our son uses to bridge the communication gap between him and those who use verbal speech would have been viewed as a threat. His stimming and vocalizations would have been prejudged. After all, Zimmerman ignored law enforcement commands to stay put, armed himself and deliberately pursued someone he considered a suspect based entirely on that teen's race. We now know that living in or near Ferguson for anyone considered Black and male, especially if it is decided by law enforcement that individual is “behaving erratically”, marks that individual for death.


--Catastrophic Encounters and Autistic Identity (Psychology Today)
posted by magstheaxe at 10:28 AM on September 1 [2 favorites]


...and with that "navel-gazing church talk", Hillary Clinton insured her defeat in the 2016 Presidential Election to ANY Republican.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:45 AM on September 1


...and with that "navel-gazing church talk", Hillary Clinton insured her defeat in the 2016 Presidential Election to ANY Republican.

Nah, I don't think so. Obama won both elections without the majority of the white vote, so if Clinton also alienates the racists, it doesn't necessarily matter electorally.
posted by scody at 12:03 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


(That is, assuming she gets the nom, which I don't necessarily think is a given.)
posted by scody at 12:03 PM on September 1


On cynical days, I think the liberal wing of the Southern Strategy doesn't really want to solve these problems either. What's happening in this country with authorities treating bedrock rights as de facto privileges alloted to only a portion of the population while those seeking to pushback against the abuses unreflexively allow the discourse to be dominated by talk of privilege instead of right may be just another piece of sneaky political wordsmithing like entitlements. Privilege has nothing to do with it. It's not a privilege to have basic rights honored and observed, regardless of the reality of privilege. This goes well beyond privilege.

I think the fear is we're being duped again--not that analysis of privilege is wrong, generally, but that privilege has precious little to do with it when police are acting like its open season on some Americans' lives. That's a conversation that should be about basic human rights, not privileges. (And sure, I'm conflating two different senses of the word privilege here, but trading in that kind of semantic confusion is also a political trick we've seen used to devastating effect in recent years, so maybe the fears are valid.)

I mean, come on--the black guy shot in the toy section for holding a toy gun in an open-carry store!? Does anybody really believe this is all just accidental? It's the same delusional idiots who've thought America must be on the verge of race war since the 50s, still hoping to be proven right. Some of them just happen to be in positions of power and authority now, and we're reaping what they've sowed.

And dear god, I hope someone new turns up to run on the Dem ticket or we're screwed. Clinton doesn't give a shit about this. She just wants to get us even more deeply involved in the middle east. That's her agenda. Mark my words.
posted by saulgoodman at 3:36 PM on September 1 [4 favorites]


A former LAPD officer turned sociologist (Cooper 1991) observed that the overwhelming majority of those beaten by police turn out not to be guilty of any crime. “Cops don’t beat up burglars”, he observed. The reason, he explained, is simple: the one thing most guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to “define the situation.” If what I’ve been saying is true this is just what we’d expect. The police truncheon is precisely the point where the state’s bureaucratic imperative for imposing simple administrative schema, and its monopoly of coercive force, come together. It only makes sense then that bureaucratic violence should consist first and foremost of attacks on those who insist on alternative schemas or interpretations. At the same time, if one accepts Piaget’s famous definition of mature intelligence as the ability to coordinate between multiple perspectives (or possible perspectives) one can see, here, precisely how bureaucratic power, at the moment it turns to violence, becomes literally a form of infantile stupidity.”

— David Graeber, Dead Zones of the Imagination (PDF of the speech is here)
posted by magstheaxe at 4:37 PM on September 1 [16 favorites]


If white offenders received prison sentences ten percent longer than black offenders for the same crimes.

I guess I'm surprised it's only a ten percent disparity. :\
posted by Evilspork at 5:32 PM on September 1


I really don't want to give the impression that anything about this situation is ok, but when I interact with cops, I am very goal oriented and quiet. My goal is to say only the things that will allow me to stop interacting with cops as quickly as possible.

If I were in that guy's situation, I would have asked calmly what the problem was, offered to leave, and then would have shown the officer my ID cooperatively just to get them to leave me alone. I think the tension escalated from how he was interacting with those cops as though there was a lawyer present. He was pissed about his harassment, yeah, but when police see a person acting even slightly recalcitrant, they are pretty much trained like guard dogs to own the situation as quickly as possible, using the state-sanctioned violence at their disposal. Raising your voice when talking to a cop is a shitty idea, even if the cop is being shitty. Supportive publicity like this is generally the exception: you can die in this types of situations.

I hope folks are taking action on the city hall level to protest the behavior of their police department. I hope he gets a bunch of lawsuit money, too.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:05 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


Supportive publicity like this is generally the exception: you can die in this types of situations.

[literally dies from the shock of this revelation]
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:13 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying what happened was right, but here's 200 words of what I would have done differently
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:38 PM on September 1 [3 favorites]


The problem is that, while Lollie might have been able to avoid some aggravation by being meekly compliant even that isn't always enough to save you. As far as anyone can tell John Crawford was shot dead in the toy section of that Walmart without any kind of respondable warning. If you don't push back on these things that's where they end up.
posted by localroger at 7:06 PM on September 1 [7 favorites]


The other problem is that the issue is not what Lollie could have done differently to avoid being tased and arrested by these particular police officers, but what the fuck were these police officers thinking in the first place that led them to believe their response to his refusal to identify himself in this situation was the appropriate one?

In other words the problem here is the police and not Lollie and it's unhelpful to cast this in terms of "here's what the victim could have done differently." The conversation should be about what the police should do differently.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:12 PM on September 1 [11 favorites]


I was just saying that I would have acted differently from Lollie. He stood up for his rights and I would have been a total wuss.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:25 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


If you do not feel safe standing up for your rights, your rights do not exist.
posted by localroger at 7:34 PM on September 1 [10 favorites]


Hmm, I just realized my 'credit building' credit card is with First National Bank. Is it known yet whether someone's security guard actually called the police or not, and if so, whose security guard it was? I could easily afford to cancel my FNB card if they did turn out to be the initiators.
posted by Evilspork at 7:35 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


ESpork that is one of the many missing things that make this whole thing look very sketchy. We don't know for sure if there was a guard, whose guard it was, or who that guard was.
posted by localroger at 7:38 PM on September 1 [1 favorite]


According to Lollie's own report of events, there was a guard who told him to leave and when Lollie argued that it was a public space with no signs indicating otherwise, the guard said he would be calling the police.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:32 PM on September 1 [2 favorites]


...If I were in that guy's situation, I would have asked calmly what the problem was, offered to leave, and then would have shown the officer my ID cooperatively just to get them to leave me alone. I think the tension escalated from how he was interacting with those cops as though there was a lawyer present. He was pissed about his harassment, yeah, but when police see a person acting even slightly recalcitrant, they are pretty much trained like guard dogs to own the situation as quickly as possible, using the state-sanctioned violence at their disposal. Raising your voice when talking to a cop is a shitty idea, even if the cop is being shitty. Supportive publicity like this is generally the exception: you can die in this types of situations.

posted by oceanjesse at 9:05 PM on September 1


The point that people have been desperately trying to make in this thread is that even if he HAD stayed calm and cooperated, it is NO GUARANTEE that they wouldn't've arrested him and dragged him off to jail anyway.

Black Americans die regularly doing exactly what police tell them to do. Even more black Americans wind up "detained" in jail for hours or days, with no phone call or access to attorney, while doing exactly what police ask them to do.

The same thing does not happen to white people at the same rate. That's why Lolli stood up for his rights. If he was going to jail or going to get shot anyway, he may as well raise hell about it.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:07 AM on September 2 [9 favorites]


I was just saying that I would have acted differently from Lollie. He stood up for his rights and I would have been a total wuss.

If that's what you mean to write, then write that, not this:

I think the tension escalated from how he was interacting with those cops as though there was a lawyer present […] Raising your voice when talking to a cop is a shitty idea, even if the cop is being shitty.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:01 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Maybe if Lollie hadn't been dressed a certain way, none of this would have happened. Clearly a hoodie and jeans just paints you as a target for brutality. Police just can't help themselves! It's biology!

Also, has he tried just ... not being black? Or wearing anti-brutality nail polish?
posted by desjardins at 6:35 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]


Mayor Chris Coleman has ordered an investigation of the affair. I hope they can get to the bottom of this and amend the way the police respond to such calls. There was no need for them to bully him until he got angry so they could tase and arrest him. As a 40-year resident of St. Paul, this angers me to no end.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:00 AM on September 2 [4 favorites]


magstheaxe: "“Yet because of the de facto segregation of America, whites are unlikely to have many black friends: A study from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that in a network of 100 friends, a white person, on average, has one black friend.

Clearly, then, they're not racist.
posted by symbioid at 9:55 AM on September 2




I don't have any black friends, but it's definitely an artifact of segregation, not intent. I'm not sure how to fix it now without being all "hey will you be my black friend?"

My high school was 95% white; I had three black friends, one of whom died at age 18, one who moved to NYC, and one who effectively disappeared. I only keep in touch with one person anyway, who is white.

College (in Montana) was about 95% white and almost all of the 5% was Native American. I literally can't name one black person I met in four years. I can count the ones I saw on one hand.

Came back to Wisconsin, moved around a bit, and my workplaces/social circles were almost entirely white. There was no active exclusion of which I was aware, but I can understand why black people were loathe to show up at events where they'd be the only one.

Currently at work, there is one black person in my department (out of about 40 people). He works across the building so I don't even see him most days, and I have no work-related reason to talk to him.

I just moved from an area that is 98% white to one that is about 50%. There are two black women who live in my apartment building, I've tried to make conversation with both and they've been super standoffish, so whatever. (n.b., the whole building is like that. It's not an especially neighborly place.)

I don't think I'm unusual, especially in my geographical area, so what is the solution for people who aren't consciously choosing friends based on color, but have all-white friends anyway?
posted by desjardins at 11:02 AM on September 2


I'm not sure how to fix it now without being all "hey will you be my black friend?"

This is what I've been running up against, as well. Trying to make friends with someone strictly because of their skin color is insulting, objectifying, awful.

It's actually hard for me to imagine how to meet new friends as an adult, regardless of race, but volunteering for a cause seems like a good way to find people with similar interests. I think it'd be condescending to volunteer someplace that primarily works with minority issues just to meet black people, but with all the crap we're seeing in the news lately I genuinely do find myself upset and eager to promote change about racial problems. I'd be there for the cause primarily, and I imagine that maybe some friendships could result.

I'm still really afraid of coming off like, "Hey, I'm here to meet some black people." The reality is, "Hey, I'm really upset about racial injustice in this country and I want to volunteer with this organization that works against such injustice, nice to meet you." And then maybe after a while like, "Now that we're done planning this rally/writing to our congresspeople/whatever, how are your kids? Are you still liking your job? Have you seen the latest episode of [show]?"

But I'm still nervous about the idea. I can imagine showing up as the only white person to volunteer for a racial-equality group and feeling unwelcome, like my motives will be suspect. I think that fear is what keeps us all voluntarily segregating ourselves. I don't know how to fix it.
posted by vytae at 12:30 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I don't think that individual people trying to remedy their lack-of-[insert ethnic minority friend] is actually that helpful. I get that it feels terrible, but to me what seems a lot more useful is what is happening right now: supporting efforts to overcome structural racism, or putting pressure on elected officials to take action against police officers who abuse their power, as in the Lollie case.
posted by wuwei at 1:12 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]


We lucked out. Our little economically declining suburb is split pretty much 50/50 between white and black families. My kids play with kids who don't look like them essentially on a daily basis. Our house is kind of crap (especially now that it's underwater), but we're glad our kids at least aren't being raised under segregation.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:54 PM on September 2


This gif is making the rounds on tumblr right now. An almost bog-standard example of a black person resisting arrest, and the police's delicate handling of the situation.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:11 AM on September 3


Cop Mistakes Black Oakland Firefighter For Burglar, Draws Weapon On Man And His Kids.

Apparently Oakland’s fire chief has contacted the police chief about the incident.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:11 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Worth pulling some quotes from the nine year old fucking human person from magstheaxe's link:
“I was getting ready about to cry. My hands started to get tired, but I kept them up ... Images in my head, think about how my dad would have got shot. I keep on trying to forget about it ‘cause it scares me a lot,” Trevon Jones said.
posted by odinsdream at 1:37 PM on September 3 [6 favorites]


yea that quote really got to me, too. His poor little arms getting tired and being so scared for his dad and his brother and himself. Dammit.
posted by sweetkid at 3:09 PM on September 3


BART police say they arrested wrong man

At about 6:55 p.m. on Aug. 17, a female BART patron reported to BART police that she had been grabbed and hit by a male panhandler. She described her attacker as a black male dressed in black clothing.

However, BART police arrested a black male wearing a light gray jacket and blue jeans. BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said that the man was taken into custody because he tried to walk away when approached by BART officers.


[snip]

The man arrested by BART police was booked into San Francisco County jail on a charge of resisting arrest. His attorney, Rachel Lederman, asked that the man's name not be released because he is fearful of retaliation by police.

"It seems to me that this was clearly a wrongful detention because he didn't even match the description," Lederman said.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian reports that BART has since launched an internal affairs investigation into the arrest. BART Deputy Police Chief Jeffrey Jennings told the Bay Guardian that the San Francisco District Attorney's Office had opted not to prosecute the resisting arrest charge against the arrestee.

posted by rtha at 9:21 PM on September 3


Mid: "I have found that the time to argue your case ("I didn't do anything") is after everyone is calm, which usually happens when you show some level of respect and compliance to the police officer. "

The problem is this: the police are not your friends and will use anything you say and any evidence you provide them against you.

As a result, the only prudent action with the police to avoid engagement of any kind. That means explicitly stating that you did nothing wrong and asking if you can go or if you are being detained.

Never give police information unless you are legally compelled to do so or it is in your own interest (e.g. you are reporting a crime).
posted by Deathalicious at 10:18 PM on September 3


Update: The St. Paul City Attorney has stated that Lollie was, in fact, in a public, not private, area. Recall that the basis for the police action was supposedly an accusation of criminal trespass to private property.
posted by Muddler at 6:59 AM on September 4 [10 favorites]


I would love to know how often the property security clears people from that now-confirmed public area of the Skyway and what the racial breakdown is of the citizens asked to move on. I'd also love to know if he's instructed to do that by the property management or if he genuinely received a call from the bank. I don't suppose if that information is even tracked there's any way to find out.
posted by gladly at 9:34 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


The security guards seem to still be at it. From the article:
Before the case was dismissed, Rezac went to examine the area where Lollie had been sitting. He saw no signs calling it private and neither did a Pioneer Press reporter who looked Wednesday. A sign at the building's lower-level entrance says, "No loitering."

Rezac told security guards he was going to take pictures in the area. They told him it was a private area and that he could not. A building manager said he would need a court order to do so, he said.

A Pioneer Press photographer taking pictures in the area Wednesday said a security guard stopped him, told him the bank was a private building and said he couldn't photograph in the skyway.
posted by Lexica at 9:54 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Time for an Improv Everywhere photography event…
posted by five fresh fish at 12:46 AM on September 5 [3 favorites]


Deathalicious - I don't think we are saying very different things. I was saying that it is a mistake to argue with the police ("I didn't do anything") when they are in the midst of trying to stop and question you. I think doing that will virtually never improve the situation for you. If you are asked to stop, I think you probably need to stop and address the officer calmly. If you want to then explain that you weren't doing anything wrong - that's the time to do it, though I agree that explaining things to the police may not always be the best tactic. I wouldn't go so far as to say that you should never explain yourself to the police - that's kind of silly - you might have been mistakenly stopped, for example. Explaining who you are and what you are doing might be helpful in that circumstance - probably more helpful than refusing to provide information and/or demanding to know if you are being detained. But circumstances of course vary. My only point was that refusing to stop in the first instance is pretty much always a bad idea.
posted by Mid at 8:44 AM on September 5






So from that video, he had already left the area before the police even approached him?

Can someone clarify what it means in terms of charges and arrest that the police didn't actually see him sitting on the chair (the supposed main trespassing offense)? In Canada we have summary offences and indictable offences, which I thought were roughly equivalent to your misdemeanors and felonies. If my memory of HS law serves, you can only be arrested/charged with a summary offence if the cops actually see you committing it. So, for example, the police can't fingerprint a piece of garbage that they find and show up at your house 3 days later to charge you with littering.

Presumably trespassing is a misdemeanor. Doesn't it matter that he wasn't trespassing anymore (well never was, actually, but even had he been, he was no longer) when the cops showed up?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:10 PM on September 10


This has me livid. They attacked him.
I hope he wins millions and millions of dollars.
I also hope this never happens to anyone ever again, but...well. Ugh.
posted by Bacon Bit at 5:11 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


St. Paul police release new videos of skyway Taser arrest.
"But while the footage from two surveillance videos, neither of which had audio, offered more visual detail on a case that has garnered national attention, it provided little additional clarity on whether the tasing and arrest of Chris V. Lollie were warranted."
Oh really, Star Tribune? Thank you for your singular, unwavering commitment to judgement-free, unbiased reporting. Your journalistic integrity is 100% intact.
posted by amanda at 8:59 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]


Well, that video actually clears it up completely for me. He looks like a black person sitting pointlessly in a chair. He could even be, gasp, homeless or something. And he's near white people.

QED.
posted by odinsdream at 1:19 PM on September 11




> Doesn't it matter that he wasn't trespassing anymore

Nope.
609.605 TRESPASS.
Subdivision 1.Misdemeanor.
(b) A person is guilty of a misdemeanor if the person intentionally:
(3) trespasses on the premises of another and, without claim of right, refuses to depart from the premises on demand of the lawful possessor;
(8) returns to the property of another within one year after being told to leave the property and not to return, if the actor is without claim of right to the property or consent of one with authority to consent;
He was asked to leave by a (misinformed) security guard & wouldn't.

> you can only be arrested/charged with a summary offence if the cops actually see you committing it

That's generally the rule in the US: warrantless arrests for misdemeanors can only be made if the peace officer witnessed the offense. In Minnesota:
629.34 WHEN ARREST MAY BE MADE WITHOUT WARRANT.
Subdivision 1.Peace officers. (a) A peace officer, as defined in section 626.84, subdivision 1, clause (c), who is on or off duty within the jurisdiction of the appointing authority, or on duty outside the jurisdiction of the appointing authority pursuant to section 629.40, may arrest a person without a warrant as provided under paragraph (c).
(c) A peace officer or part-time peace officer who is authorized under paragraph (a) or (b) to make an arrest without a warrant may do so under the following circumstances:
(1) when a public offense has been committed or attempted in the officer's presence;
(2) when the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in the officer's presence;
(3) when a felony has in fact been committed, and the officer has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it;
(4) upon a charge based upon reasonable cause of the commission of a felony by the person arrested;
(5) under the circumstances described in clause (2), (3), or (4), when the offense is a gross misdemeanor violation of section 609.52, 609.595, 609.631, 609.749, or 609.821;
(6) under circumstances described in clause (2), (3), or (4), when the offense is a nonfelony violation of a restraining order or no contact order previously issued by a court; or
The gross misdemeanors are property damage, check & credit card fraud & recent domestic abuse.

The city dropped the charges without trying to prosecute them, but I can see a rationale for an arrest-- the cops believed he had trespassed. In order to enforce the 1 year "stay away" rule and to write a summons for the current trespass, they need him to stop walking and give them a name/address/birthdate. Resisting detention leads to resisting arrest which is a felony.

In general, resisting arrest when there was no good reason to arrest in the first place is the go-to charge for "contempt of cop." The idea is that police work is so dangerous (it's safer than picking up garbage), that the public's immediate compliance is always required. SCOTUS's main erosions of the 4th amendment have all been in the interest of "officer safety."
posted by morganw at 3:34 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]


Something that comes up in the Filter Free Amerika interview is that they kept the cell phone for 6 months, which looks punitive. If they wanted the video for evidence, they could have copied it off & returned the phone(s) and should have.

>> marijuana on him... and bad on him for even introducing that possibility while picking up his kids.

> I don't smoke weed and maybe never will, and I'm not sure about complete legalization, but I'm thinking the bad is on *us* for making possession of some personal amount of it a matter of concern bigger than a possible citation


MJ is decriminalized in MN $200 infraction, but unlike a lot of decrim states, "There is a possible drug education course requirement." They wouldn't have had PC to search him based on a trivial trespassing beef, though.
posted by morganw at 3:44 PM on September 12


morganw, you responded no, but the material you quoted says it should. Trespassing is a misdemeanor and the cops didn't see him trespassing (again, I realize this isn't private space, but if we assume the cops somehow really thought it WAS private space), since he had already left, they didn't witness him staying in a place he had been asked to leave. So even if he HAD been trespassing, they could not arrest him for it without a warrant because they didn't witness it. He had left by the time they arrived.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:07 PM on September 12


Right, misdemeanor trespassing not witnessed by police isn't arrest-able, but it is a crime. That's what my nope meant- it doesn't matter if you eventually leave as long as you refused to leave when asked at one point.

For non witnessed misdemeanors, law enforcement issues a citation or complaint and summons, you sign it, then show up in court for an arraignment. That seems like it would have been the procedure here and supposedly (warning, cop logic), had he stopped, given a name and address and signed the ticket he would have been on his way (and missed his kids due to the delay).

However, a citation is actually an arrest and simultaneous release on own recognizance. In some states, they issue them anyway (most commonly to shoplifters) and in some, the cops gather the info, give it to the prosecutor if he or she thinks it's worth pursuing, then you get a complaint and summons in the mail.

Detaining an accused and non-witnessed trespasser to "investigate" only requires "reasonable and articulable suspicion". It's a pretty low bar.
posted by morganw at 4:15 PM on September 13






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