Tuesday, August 18, 2015

14 Police Officers Take Down A One-Legged Homeless Black Man

Here's an article on Medium, I watched 14 police officers take down a one-legged homeless Black man outside Twitter HQ.

I recorded the incident August 4th 2015 during the lunch hour. It involves a Black man who was taken down by police in the mid-Market area of San Francisco, between 7th and 8th streets. Though the takedown didn’t occur directly outside of the Twitter building on 9th street, I began to see outlines of the incident unfold from there; a limping Black figure, wearing black, increasingly cornered by a wall of blue. By the time I had crossed 8th street, I was pulling out my phone as fast as I could.

Witnesses said there had been a call about somebody waving sticks around. No one, at least no one that I stayed long enough after the filming, could say for sure where the call came from. One woman said that she heard someone say that one of the deli managers called. By the time I arrived where Joe Bland was (as we’ll call him), several officers had arrived on the scene, and forced this man to the ground, which is where this footage begins. And they held him down, much of the time half-naked, for at least half an hour on one of San Francisco’s busiest streets.

The sticks? They were his crutches. You can hear people in the background around say so much. From my vantage point on the shore of 8th street, I could see the man reluctantly hand over his crutches. The man, it turned out, only had one leg; the other was a prosthetic. It is often twisted and backwards in the video. And this was the crux of the heightened tension between the police and Joe Bland; they wanted his crutches and he did not want to give them away. “What are you doing this for?” he asked so many times. “These are my crutches. I use these to walk.” He repeats this throughout the footage. An officer can be seen at the 5 second time-mark stomping on the man’s prosthetic leg. In further efforts to subdue a man already on the ground with four people on top of him, they stood on his leg, held it, and twisted it around even after they had cuffed him and pinned him to the piss-stained concrete.

Even when restrained and clearly unable to walk, several officers continued to hold him down to the ground.

It does seem pretty ridiculous. I'm not sure why they're arresting him, they might have a good reason (he could be drunk or high) but I don't understand the tactics. Sure the police have to ensure their own safety, but it should be the case that only a minute or two into this incident they should have realized that he had no weapons (I'm assuming but from the video there's no indication of any) and isn't a flight risk (he's got a prosthetic leg and they had taken the crutches he was using to walk). At the end of the video (which is just a portion of the incident) they sit him up, with his hands tied behind his back, why couldn't they have done that 10 minutes prior? I'm guessing if they had, they would have needed 10 or so officers surrounding the other officers to perform crowd control.

Also I learned recently that if you report a car accident and call the police that it's San Francisco Police policy to not send any officers unless someone is injured. They claim they don't have the man power. Given the above where it takes 14 of them to arrest a man on crutches I can understand why that is.

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