Police brutality against blacks, especially black males, is a nationwide crisis. Newspapers from Philadelphia to New Orleans to New York have decried out-of-control cops routinely arresting, beating and even killing innocent blacks for weak, implausible or trumped-up reasons. In 2012 police, security guards, and vigilantes killed a black man every 28 hours in the U.S., according to the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
Remember Abner Louima, raped by policemen who arrested him based on charges that were later dropped? Amadou Diallo, shot to death for pulling out his wallet? Sean Bell, killed on his way out of his own bachelor party?
Miami cops have given us a brand-new example of police violence against black males: 14-year-old Tremaine McMillan. (This is why I write “black males” and not “black men” — youth are in no way exempt from police beatings.)
Police threw McMillan to the ground and choked him with, at best, very little reason. Even the six-week-old puppy in the boy’s arms got hurt, despite being white.
The police officers said they took McMillan down for giving them “dehumanizing stares” and “clenching his fists.” (Pause a moment to consider the irony of two white adults complaining because a black boy gave them a dehumanizing stare.)
They say they first noticed him because he was roughhousing. They told him that behavior was unacceptable and asked where his mother was. He walked away.
After that, the cops say, they chased him in ATVs. When they caught him he tried “to pull his arm away, stating, ‘Man, don’t touch me like I did something,’” Alternet reports.
“Of course we have to neutralize the threat in front of us,” a Miami police detective said. But McMillan and witnesses say there was no threat to neutralize.
According to them, the youth was playing on the beach with friends. He says he walked away from the cops to take them to his mother and that he was feeding his puppy from a baby bottle, which occupied both his hands, precluding any clenching of fists.
It was when the officers slammed McMillan to the ground that his puppy, Polo, “got hurt and bruised his front paw… It makes me feel sad,” he said.
The video above shows that once McMillan was down, one officer choked him while the other took his time handcuffing him. McMillan says that he couldn’t breathe for so long that he urinated on himself.
McMillan’s mother, who made the video above with her cell phone, said “I ran over there and said, ‘That’s my son, that’s my son. Can you get off of him? He can’t breathe.’”
On July 16th McMillan will have to stand trial on charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. He pleaded not guilty.
It’s hard to disagree with that he was not guilty. Even if everything the police officers said is true — he was roughhousing with another youth, walked away after they spoke to him, clenched his fists, and looked at them funny — he didn’t do anything that merited a violent arrest. If a white 14-year-old were thrown around, choked, and cuffed, I suspect the officers would find themselves on “administrative leave” and any charges against the boy would be dropped.
Photo credit: CBS/Channel 4, Miami