Video of law enforcement officers appearing to violently beat a black man during a recent arrest in downtown Minneapolis has once again raised the specter of police brutality in a community that has seen a number of officer-involved shooting deaths over the past year.
In footage taken by Facebook user SackSquad Fourty, members of the Minneapolis Police Department can be seen aggressively restraining an unidentified black man, first appearing to use a Taser, and later their elbows and fists, as the man lay on the ground. Throughout the video, the man can be heard screaming in pain, shouting at one point: “My fucking back is killing me! Oh god! My back!”
Police Brutality Downtown Minneapolis .😡😡 Police Tazed Da Man Den Started Elbowing Em Im Da Back 👿👿 Fuck 12 🖕🏾👮🏻♀️🔫
On YouTube, he wrote:
Minneapolis Minnesota Police Brutality. Occurred Yesterday At 10-26-2016. Man Was Standing At The Train Station, At The Government Plaza And Police Slammed Him And Started Beating Him . The Man Was Screaming For Help. Please Upload People Need To See This.
However, as the footage does not begin until after the man is already on the ground, the circumstances leading up to his arrest are unclear.
Over Facebook messenger, SackSquad Fourty (who asked that I call him John John) told me that the man being arrested had originally been driving across the light rail tracks, when officers on foot attempted to stop his car, at which point, he drove off. He said the man “wasn’t resisting at all until they tased him.”
Warning: The video may be difficult to watch:
On October 31, the footage was shared by the Minneapolis chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement, who described it as “physical and spiritual violence,” writing:
We are all too familiar with this. Another filmed incident of police brutality downtown Minneapolis at the light rail station. Surrounded and cuffed by several cops and getting repeatedly elbowed in the back.
A statement released by the Minneapolis Police Department on November 2 to local alt-weekly City Pages confirmed the arrest, but said that a fuller video would show that the officers’ conduct was justified:
The MPD is aware of, and has reviewed, the edited video posted on social media. MPD officers were called to the scene to assist law enforcement officers with a suspect of a domestic violence call who was resisting arrest. The [body worn camera] video of the MPD officers shows a different angle and provides a clearer view of the suspect’s resistance.
Nevertheless, the footage comes after several high profile incidents of alleged police brutality or misconduct against black men in and around Minneapolis over the past year.
In November, 2015 24-year-old Jamar Clark was shot and killed by MPD officers after an altercation at a party. The officers involved were subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing. In July 2016, waves of protests rocked the Twin Cities after 32-year-old Philando Castile was killed by officer Jeronimo Yanez in the suburb of Falcon Heights. And in October, outrage followed the publication of footage showing an unidentified black man stopped for walking in the street by police in the suburb of Edina.
For John John, however, this incident has left a particularly strong impression.
“It makes you wanna help [the] dude out and fight the police, but then you think about how that cop can shoot and kill me and get away [with] it,” he said.