Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Three Black High-School Students Arrested for Waiting for the Bus

Rochester teens address the media - Photo courtesy of WHEC
The news about three black teenage Rochester, NY high school student-athletes being arrested by a police officer last week for standing on the sidewalk while waiting for a school bus to transport them to a basketball scrimmage is justifiably all over the Web.

Unfortunately that news hadn't reached Republican Party headquarters before their December 1st announcement via Twitter that racism had "ended" with Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Birmingham.

As Washington Post editor Ezra Klein shrewdly observed on his Wa Po Wonkblog , it's an understatement to say that quite a bit still needs to happen in this nation before such a historic statement rings forth across America. Just ask Wan'Tauhjs Weathers, 17, Deaquon Carelock, 16 and Raliek Redd, 16.

While late word from MSNBC.com is that the charges against the three were dropped by the district attorney, the damage has already been done. And did it really take the Rochester DA that long to tell the police to drop the charges?

What's even more outrageous than the Rochester Police department handcuffing and arresting three African-American high school student-athletes for literally doing nothing on the day before Thanksgiving in the first place is the fact that even after the story has blown up nationally - the police (rather than just apologize) were still sticking by their man.

Even after their high-school varsity basketball coach showed up as the teens were being cuffed and respectfully informed the officer that the three young men WERE waiting for a school bus to take them to a scrimmage.

According to the Field Negro's blog on the incident, the police report claims in part the teens were obstructing "pedestrian traffic while standing on a public sidewalk...preventing free passage of citizens walking by and attempting to enter and exit a store."

Personally I'd be embarrassed as a member of law enforcement to scribble that sorry excuse for an arrest onto a ticket and hand it in, but evidently free passage of citizens on the sidewalk is pretty high on the Rochester Police tactical priority list these days. Book 'em Dano!

Seriously though it's really sad that the continuing nationwide trend of law enforcement personnel criminalizing even the most routine kinds of behavior by young men of color continues. Driving While Black, Shopping While Black, Stop and Frisk; now STANDING while black?

Have we reached the point in America where simply being a young man of color is in itself a crime?
It's almost as if police take on this weird Robo Cop personae when dealing with young men of color; they don't even listen to them.

The teens told the police officer they were waiting for a bus; he arrested them anyway. On Friday November 22nd I blogged about 19 year-old black college student Trayvon Christian who was arrested by two NYPD officers outside Barney's in New York after he bought a $350 belt; even after he showed them his ID, his credit card and his receipt. They arrested him anyway.

If Republicans really want to impress Twitter followers with their cultural Web savvy (boy did they miss wide right with that bungled Rosa Parks text...oh man) let's see them Tweet a statement about these three young men from Rochester being denied their Constitutional rights on Main Street in broad daylight in America.

Free passage of citizens, riiight....

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