AFRICANGLOBE – A Minnesota man filmed police arresting and tasing him as he waited in a public place to pick up his kids from daycare, and posted the results on YouTube. It’s now received over a million views and raised more questions about police use of excessive force against Black Americans.
Chris Lollie, a father of four, said he had just finished the night shift cleaning at an Italian restaurant in St. Paul. He said in an interview on the Filter Free Amerika podcast that he had finished work early on Jan. 31, so he took a seat in the skyway outside the First National Bank as he waited to pick up his kids from daycare.
Lollie says a bank security officer told him the area was private and threatened to call the police. Because Lollie saw no sign saying the area was private property, he says he didn’t think a police officer would mind his presence. When a cop showed up, Lollie videotaped the encounter.
The video, titled “Black man taken to jail for sitting in public area,” was uploaded to YouTube on Aug. 26. (Lollie says the police department retained his phone for six months after the incident.) It quickly caused an uproar in the media, online and among civil rights groups.
“In the video, a female cop, later identified as Lori Hayne, asks Lollie to identify himself. “I wanna find out who you are,” the video records her as saying, which Lollie refuses to do. “I know my rights first off, I don’t have to let you know who I am,” he says.
In this case, he’s right. Police have the right to stop and identify passersby in 24 states, but not Minnesota, according to the ACLU’s Minnesota chapter. (Arizona, Colorado and New York are three states that do.) These stop and identify laws only apply to situations where the police have a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. In no state can police require a person to show an ID for no reason.
The problem is I’m Black. No, that’s the problem. It really is,” Lollie says in the video.
Lollie repeatedly tells the police officer that he hasn’t done anything wrong and that he’s picking up his kids from New Horizons daycare. At that point male officers Michael Johnson and Bruce Schmidt arrive and tell Lollie he’s going to jail. The video goes Black as the officers restrain and tase Lollie.
“Can somebody please help me?” Lollie shouts, “That’s my kids right there! My kids are right there!” The viewer can hear what sound like children’s wails in the background as Lollie pleads to passersby: “Please help me! Please help me!”
Lollie calls the officers “racist motherf*ckers,” and accuses them of assault. “I don’t have any weapons. You are the one with the weapons here.”
According to St. Paul Police Department’s statements on Facebook about the incident, Lollie was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process. The charges were dropped in July. The SPPD’s post, however, had over 2,000 comments at time of writing, mostly expressing outrage along the lines of reminding police to “protect and serve, not harass and taser.”
The St. Paul police union defended the officers’ actions, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune, saying Lollie was to blame for the escalation of the situation. “He refused numerous lawful orders for an extended period of time. The only person who brought race into this situation was Mr. Lollie,” the statement said.
In the podcast interview, Lollie shows a text from White reporter Kim Johnson, who says a security guard in that same skyway told her that the seats were open to the public. Citypages.com unearthed a 2009 First National Bank Facebook post inviting passersby to enjoy a “quick five” on those same seats.
The St. Paul police chief Tom Smith also defended the officers’ actions. “At one point, the officers believed he might either run or fight with them,” he said in an explanatory statement released by a local Fox affiliate on Aug. 26. That caused them to use “the force necessary to safely take him into custody.”
The Star Tribune reports that St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has requested a full review of the arrest. “It raises a great deal of concern, especially given this summer’s shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri,” he said in a statement.
The Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission (PCIARC), which is made up of five citizens and two members of the police union, will be responsible for the investigation. Lollie has not yet filed an official complaint, though a local news station reported he was planning a federal civil rights lawsuit.
By: Katie Sola
Watch: Black Man Taken To Jail For Sitting In Public Area