I’m hesitant about adding to this conversation, because I’m white. But I have firsthand experience with police misconduct, and I want to use that experience to illustrate something.
When I was 18 and a freshman at Pitt, the G-20 Summit came to Pittsburgh and a bunch of riot police from all over the country beat the crap out of the city and my school and everyone they could get their hands on. I legal observed for the ACLU during one of the major protests, witnessed a lot of beatings, got tear gassed, and then was arrested while off-duty six hours later, holding open the door to let a bunch of students into their dorm before the police crushed them all. My arresting officer, a huge man in full riot gear, didn’t say “you’re under arrest, come with me” or anything like that to see if I would go peacefully. He just approached me from behind, grabbed my wrist and threw me on the ground like a ragdoll, then pinned me face-first to the patio and put me in zipties. My knees were scraped up and bled all night, I had a big lump on my head, and my wrists were bruised the next morning from my zip ties being too tight. My arresting officer was incredibly unprofessional and disrespectful (called me ‘babe’, made jokes about how I should try not to look beat up in my mug shot or he’d get in trouble). I was later charged with failure to disperse, with officers citing an order to disperse that had been issued several blocks away and many hours earlier, which no reasonable person would assume applied to where I was arrested.
If this story had made national news, this is how an “objective” report would probably sound:
Freshman Tracey Hickey alleges that police used excessive force when arresting her on Friday morning for failure to disperse.
Hickey claims that police made no attempt to peacefully arrest her before they pushed her down and handcuffed her, leading to minor injuries.
Police say that Hickey failed to obey an order to disperse issued earlier in the night, and her arrest was consistent with their orders to arrest those who didn’t clear the area. Police say that when they apprehended her, Hickey was acting erratically, shouting and waving her arms on the patio, although some witnesses claim she was directing other students to safety.
Hickey is affiliated with the American Civil Liberties Union, a controversial organization boasting a history of clashes with the police. The ACLU had litigated against the Pittsburgh Police Department before the G-20 Summit was even under way, claiming an issue with permits.