In the past several years, high-profile incidents of DWB — “driving while black,” or being pulled over by police simply because of the color of one’s skin — have inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, protests, and much discussion. The newest case to be caught on video and posted for all to see on social media is one of WWB, or “walking while black.” However, there are no guidelines that state why a man should be handcuffed for walking down a street to avoid construction.
Larnie Thomas was walking through the suburb of Edina, MN, when he encountered construction on the sidewalk. He stepped into the street, but shortly thereafter was stopped by police and handcuffed.
A video posted to YouTube by a bystander shows Thomas walking by the street’s shoulder right before a plainclothes Edina police officer grabs him first by his arm, and then by the back of his jacket, and escorts him to a nearby police vehicle.
Thomas repeatedly tells the officer to stop touching him, becoming more agitated as the video goes on. However, the officer keeps a firm hold on the back of Thomas’s jacket.
The woman filming repeatedly tries to reason with the officer, telling him there was no place for Thomas to walk and that he was scared.
“People die in these situations,” she says. “It’s scary.”
After a few minutes, a second officer arrives on the scene, telling Thomas that the officer who apprehended him announced he was under arrest.
Numerous bystanders can be heard protesting, but the second officer places handcuffs on Thomas, regardless.
After the seven-minute video was posted to YouTube, police said the officer at the scene reported a public safety risk, which was what initially prompted him to confront Thomas. However, many now agree that the officer’s actions and the subsequent arrest were not warranted as a result of Thomas’s actions.
Social media sites like YouTube are widely credited for boosting the exposure of incidents like this one, and it’s no wonder; experts say that nearly 4 out of 5 Americans are now online in some fashion.
The mayor and City Council of Edina have publicly apologized for the incident after hearing multiple emotional testimonies regarding race relations in the area.
Edina Mayor James Hovland has even stated that he wants to apologize to Thomas personally, face-to-face.
“It’s one thing for me to sit up here and apologize, it’s another to meet him face-to-face,” he said.
Thomas was not taken to jail after the incident occurred, and citations issued for disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct will be dismissed.