Thursday, September 4, 2014

More on Saint Paul's Skyway Injustice

More details from today's Pioneer Press on the Chris Lollie sitting-while-black-in-a-skyway-lounge case.

Photographer Ben Garvin, who took this picture, reported on Twitter that for the first time in his career taking hundreds of photos in Saint Paul's skyways, he was told not to and that it was a "private area."

Sure looks like a private area, doesn't it?

Some people who hear about the Lollie case say, "Well, yeah, but what happened before he turned on the video recording?" Today's story describes it this way:

When a guard told Lollie he was calling police, Lollie said he replied, "Go ahead," because he expected officers would tell the guard he was in a public area.

He said he waited about five minutes for police to arrive, then started walking away to see if his children had arrived.

The first [woman] officer then approached, Lollie said, and asked him to identify himself. Lollie refused, telling the officer that he knew his rights and that he had done nothing wrong. 
So Lollie was no longer doing the supposedly illegal action when police arrived. There had been no harm from it.
When officer Lori Hayne encountered Lollie, he was walking and she couldn't see the area where the security guard reported he had been, [city attorney] Grewing said. Two other officers, Michael Johnson and Bruce Schmidt, arrived. 
So the city confirms that Lollie had gotten so far from the seating area by the time police started talking to him that the seating area wasn't even visible.

In my opinion, what the first-arriving officer should have done was ascertained that there was anything illegal in the first place. Plus -- if Lollie had walked away from the area far enough that it was no longer visible, and Hayne never talked to the guard -- how did she even know Lollie was the guy she was looking for? He could have been any black guy with dreadlocks in the area.

The PiPress says that officer Bruce Schmidt is the one who tased Lollie. It's not clear if he's the first male cop who appears from the right of the frame and immediately escalates the situation, or if he's the second male cop who's seen briefly but never speaks (as far as I can tell).

The story continues:
Before the case was dismissed, Rezac [Lollie's defense attorney] 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." [Note: that entrance is on a different floor, not visible from the skyway.]

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. 
The police union insists that the officers behaved in a respectful manner and that Lollie is at fault for not falling down on the floor and kissing their feet, essentially. (Okay, they didn't say that last part, but they did say the cops acted "responsibly, respectfully and in accordance with the highest professional standards we expect from our members." And they continued, saying Lollie refused "numerous lawful orders for an extended period of time. The only person who brought race into this situation was Mr. Lollie.")

What part of the male cop's behavior can be called "respectful"? He swoops in, interrupting what was a fairly reasonable conversation between Hayne and Lollie, immediately tries to take Lollie's arm for no reason, and when Lollie pulls his arm back, responds by saying, "Well, you're going to go to jail, then."

Cops need to be shown this video so they know what NOT to do when interacting with citizens.


Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario wrote in the same day's paper about the Lollie case. He discusses implicit bias:
"Nationwide, statistically significant samples show that 70 (percent) to 87 percent of Caucasians in the United States demonstrate bias against African-Americans on the Race IAT," [researcher] Papillon writes.

More known "shoot/don't shoot" studies show that the overwhelming majority of players -- less so trained law enforcement personnel -- made more mistakes and fired at unarmed African-Americans than Caucasians.

"Though the subjects in this study were required to make a choice ostensibly to protect themselves, they displayed a more aggressive reaction and willingness to injure when faced with the African-American," Papillon notes. "Most importantly, these responses were based on implicit biases, unknown to the subjects. In fact, most of the subjects consciously held strong values for fairness and egalitarianism and abhorred the notion of racial bias and discrimination." 
When will police catch up and learn about implicit bias and do the important work of training and policy to counter its effects?


BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Lollie's camera caught Officer Hayne's face, and she was looking directly at him and smiling while walking with him. Once the male cops arrived there was no respect for Lollie or for Officer Hayne and how she was proceeding.

Ms Sparrow said...

Your photo of the hallway waiting area certainly gives the conflict a fuller perspective. I would have felt perfectly entitled to sit there and relax for any length of time without harassment!