Thursday, August 30, 2007

We're Going to March For the Sake of Marching If We Must!

This is so ridiculous. I wish the UL police would simply release the video in question. If they have video evidence to dispute the claims of the girl and this ready-to-rally-and-raise-the-roof-Reverend (alliteration is fun) then why not release it and avoid allowing this situation to escalate any further.

My opinion: you DO NOT get in the face of any officer of the law (even one that you consider is "not a real cop, anyway") at any time at the scene of an incident. If the situation was unjust, address it in an appropriate manner with the appropriate authorities. Confronting a police officer at the scene is not a decent answer because body language and intent can be misinterpreted in the heat of the moment, resulting in the mess below.

The Daily Advertiser

Activists vow protests for UL student
Read initial report, UL police chief's statement
Police brutality alleged during woman's arrest
Marsha Sills

A civil rights group is calling for the firing of a UL police officer, accusing him of excessive force and the unlawful arrest of a UL student last week.

The Rev. Charles Steele, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, vowed to protest on the campus until action is taken by the university in response to the claims of student Courtney Green.

Green was arrested Aug. 20 after she disputed why a university police officer pulled her boyfriend over for speeding and then tried to tow his car when he didn't have proof of insurance. Green questioned the officer and the situation escalated from there, with her allegedly being thrown to the ground and sprayed with Mace by the officer in an attempt to restrain her.

"We're not going to tolerate this kind of behavior," Steele said. "This is the organization that freed the world and never fired a shot."

Steele and the Revs. Byron Clay, regional vice president of SCLC, and Raymond Brown of the New Black Panther Party, held a news conference on campus Wednesday to show support for Green.

The charges against Green should be dropped, Clay said.

"Her civil rights have been violated and her human spirits, as well, have been violated," he said.

On Wednesday, Green said that the officer "snapped" after she questioned him and asked to see the radar that showed her boyfriend, Hiroji Pratt, had been speeding. She said that the officer grabbed her arm and pushed her to the ground and used mace to subdue her.

According to the police report, Green began walking aggressively toward the officer after he told her to walk away from the scene. When she didn't, the officer attempted to arrest her, but Green resisted, according to the report. A struggle followed and the officer stated that Green attempted to disarm him and struck him "causing the inside of my upper lip to bust."

Green disputes the officer's account of her actions.

"I think he snapped. I made a comment, 'You're not a real cop, anyway. ...' He snapped. I was never read my rights. ... I never struck him. I never resisted arrest because I was never under arrest," she said.

UL Police Chief Ray Lucas has said he has proof from the video on the officer's dashboard that backs up his officer's version of events. The officer's last name is Mattox, according to the report. However, Lucas would not release the officer's first name.

In reference to the SCLC's visit, he said, "I'd be happy to speak with anyone who makes an appointment."

When asked about the group's demands, Lucas said that the university issued a news release with its comments.

"That's the only comment that I can make at this time," he said.

In the release, Lucas defends the officer's actions and references the videotape taken from the officer's dashboard camera.

"After reviewing a videotape from the police unit camera, I have determined that the university police officer involved broke no department policies and acted within his authority following a traffic stop involving Courtney Green on Aug. 20, 2007," the release stated.

Lucas would not release the tape because it's evidence in the investigation. When asked if the officer has had other complaints made against him in the past, Lucas said, "I do not know. To my knowledge, none."

University police maintain that because Pratt was driving without proof of insurance, the officer was within the law to take Pratt's license plate and tow the vehicle.

Steele said that the SCLC will protest Green's arrest with marches and demonstrations until action is taken by the university. The group has 200,000 members and 72 chapters charged with bringing about social change through nonviolence in the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"We'll return soon and start setting up camp and requesting meetings with the president and the deans," Clay said. "We'll be here to stay. We'll be here until the demands are met. We're prepared to bring in freedom soldiers. ... We demand that justice be done in this case."

Green is also protesting disciplinary action against her taken by the university. The university is requiring her to take an anger-management class.