Friday, August 29, 2014

Bad Cops in Saint Paul

In case you haven't heard, a clear case of police brutality and general stupidity took place in Saint Paul back in January. It just became known because the victim, Chris Lollie, only got his phone back from police a month ago, and finally posted the video he took to YouTube a few days ago. Given the story in the Atlantic, linked above, it may be going national.

Lollie was sitting in one of these chairs at 9:45 a.m. on a weekday, waiting to pick his kids up from a child care center down the hall. This is one of our famous skyways -- second floor passageways that connect buildings in the downtown areas of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

Photo by Twitter user Alex Cecchini

Skyways are quasi-public spaces -- I'm not sure who owns them, but they are patrolled by city police, so that tells us something.

Apparently, a security guard from the adjacent bank told Lollie -- a black guy in his late-20s with short dreadlocks -- that he was in an employee-only space and asked him to leave. Lollie ignored him. Or maybe he said hell no... that part is not on tape, and it doesn't matter, since there are no signs saying it's a restricted area and everything about its design and comfy chairs indicates it is meant for the public.

So the guard calls police and Lollie begins to record the encounter on video. It's a disturbing video, but not in a "someone gets killed" way -- just in a "it's hard to watch someone being treated in such a dehumanizing manner" kind of way.

It took Saint Paul police almost six months to drop the absurd charges they filed against Lollie, and they're still insisting they behaved in an acceptable manner. Quoting the Atlantic article,

"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," a spokesperson said. "He pulled away and resisted officers' lawful orders. They then used the force necessary to safely take him into custody." Said the designated public employee union representative: "These three cops in the skyway, you couldn't get nicer individuals. This guy was acting like a jerk." 
Yeah, I'd want to run away from you, too, and I would have the right to do that since there was no indication a crime had been committed. "He pulled away" and "he resisted...lawful orders" -- that's utter crap.

Apologize now and pay the man some money. You are wrong. I am ashamed that you police my city.


Update: Back in 2009, the First National Bank building (owner of the seating area in question) posted this Facebook status, which clearly welcomes the public to have a seat in those cushy chairs. The comments in response are all about the Chris Lollie incident. Most are supportive of Lollie, and one person tells a story from his own life where he was assumed to be a criminal as he returned to his own home. There are also a couple of overt racists in the thread, though they are smacked down by other commenters.

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