Producer Charles Beck Says He Was Wrongfully Arrested Because He’s Black

Written by Brittany Greenquist.

Ferguson teen Michael Brown was recently gunned down by police, and his death has left Americans dealing with the ever-present reality of police discrimination and brutality. His isn’t the first racial shooting, but it set off a series of events that has left people starving for change.

His death has also encouraged the surfacing of other stories of racial intolerance and discrimination, including the arrest of television producer Charles Belk in Beverly Hills this past weekend.

Belk said police arrested him as he was walking from a restaurant where they reportedly accused him of “armed bank robbery and accessory to robbery of a Citibank.”

Understandably frustrated, the producer wrote a Facebook post that described his experience, saying his only crime was that he fit the description of a “tall, bald head, black male.”


It’s one of those things that you hear about, but never think it would happen to you.

On Friday afternoon, August 22nd around 5:20pm, while innocently walking by myself from a restaurant on Wilshire Blvd, to my car up LaCienega Blvd my freedom was taken from me by the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Within seconds, I was detained and told to sit on the curb of the very busy street, during rush hour traffic.

Within minutes, I was surrounded by 6 police cars, handcuffed very tightly, fully searched for weapons, and placed back on the curb.

Within an hour, I was transported to the Beverly Hills Police Headquarters, photographed, finger printed and put under a $100,000 bail and accused of armed bank robbery and accessory to robbery of a Citibank.

Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded…..All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong “tall, bald head, black male,” … “fitting the description.”

I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know at the time that I was a law abiding citizen of the community and that in my 51 years of existence, had never been handcuffed or arrested for any reason. All they saw, was someone fitting the description. Doesn’t matter if he’s a “Taye Diggs BLACK”, a “LL Cool J BLACK”, or “a Drake BLACK.”

Beverly Hills police have since responded, sending a statement to The Huffington Post regarding Belk’s arrest. They said that a 47-year-old female was arrested for the robbery, but witnesses say she was working with a man who distracted bank employees while the robbery was carried out.

Police claim that Belk fit the clothing and physical description of the male suspect, and he was less than a block from where the crime took place. A “field investigation” identified Belk as the suspect, however, a “follow up” investigation determined he was not involved.

“The Beverly Hills Police Department deeply regrets the invoncenience to Mr. Belk and has reached out to him to express those regrets and further explain the circumstances,” they wrote.

While it’s clear the police can’t be too careful when something as dangerous as an armed bank robbery takes place, it’s also important that they not take an innocent man to the precinct based on a description alone — one that they may or may not specifically fit.

But it’s more than them stopping Belk because he supposedly fit the description, it’s the way the entire event was carried out. The producer claims he was never given an explanation, was denied a phone call, a lawyer and he claims no cop went inside the restaurant to check for an alibi.

Belk also posted on Facebook all of the facts, as well as basic rights he was denied:

- I was handcuff on a curb for 45+ minutes on a public, busy street
– I was not heard when I told them where I was and what I did
– The person that was with me around the corner was not heard
– No officer walked about the corner to even inquire with the establishment if I was there
– I was never read my rights even though I was finger printed, photoed and put in a jail cell with a blank and slippers
– I was not allowed a phone call during the 6 hours, even though I requested to make one
– My attorney was denied seeing me for almost an hour (which is a violation of penal code!)

All Americans, including minorities, want to feel safe and know that police are working to protect them, not feel that they’re out to get them.

How does Belk’s experience make you feel in light of everything that’s happened in Ferguson?

This post originally appeared on RYOT.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Ronald Morrison

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Robin Pasholk
Robin Pasholk11 months ago

None of us are white, or black either. Humanity comes in colors ranging from the extremely pale pinkish-tan of albinos (in their case, not from melanin but from the blood vessels etc. made visible by their lack of it) to a deep rich brown like dark chocolate. And just as the value of a book comes from its contents rather than the color of its binding, the value of a human being comes from what's in his/her mind, heart, and soul rather than the color of his/her skin.

Dennis D.
Dennis D.about a year ago

BJ J. Actually, it would.. I misread your post.. The green star was in error.

Karen H.
Karen H.about a year ago

Police departments across America need to clean up their act. This happens far too often. Racial profiling goes on all the time and it's got to stop.
I particularly like the fact that Beverly Hills cops were looking for “tall, bald head, black male” and "a 47-year-old female was arrested for the robbery." Was she bald? How many tall, bald-headed Black males were in the vicinity at the time? The rationale was, "We'll grab the first one we see and that's gotta be him."
I saw Jon Stewart's show that night. He was so right.

BJ J.about a year ago

If Michael Brown or Charles Belk were white, would either of these incidents be in the news or Care 2? Just asking. . . .

Charlie Rush
Charlene Rushabout a year ago

If the U.S.A. doesn't stop this racist harassment of our African American citizens, there will be a backlash, and it will most definitely, including people of all colors. It is getting way out of hand and it MUST stop.

Every time we appear to be making some progress with racial relations, we have these hate groups who get everyone worked into a frenzy. Obviously, it effects the police departments, as well.

pam w.
pam w.about a year ago

I'm sure he'll sue and money will solve everything.

JL A.about a year ago

ghastly violations of rights in multiple ways

Tammy I.
Tammy I.about a year ago

Freddy R. states, "When coloreds like me . . . ."

I think everyone should have stopped reading this man's post at this point as he uses a dated term that I find offensive.

Having been actively engaged in many posts on Care2 for some time now, I think it would be best if everyone decided to ignore those whose only purpose is to stir the pot and/ or spout ugly, inappropriate comments. Why add fuel to the fire?

Quite frankly, I'm beginning to think particular authors here on Care2 purposefully write to incite incivility.

How nice it would be if we could engage in respectful, intelligent conversations---which I do see occurring sporadically here, even in the most controversial of topics. I know I am being unrealistic, but a gal can wish!

Joseph Belisle
Joseph Belisleabout a year ago

I saw a great episode of the Daily Show the other day. Jon Stewart did a great show on how black people are automatically looked upon as suspects for being black and nearby. He talked about how they did a test of their own. Walked a white man all grubbed out, looking awful into a building in NY and now one questioned him. Just after they had a black man walk in wearing a tailored suit and they questioned him why he was entering the building. Jon Stewart who does normally a very funny show was less funny on this one and you could see in his face he is upset by this injustice.
And another great thing he points out about this, is so many white bigots whine and complain about not being treated fairly like their imaginary war on Christmas while black people, pretty much daily live with real prejudice and take it in stride.

Maria Teresa Schollhorn
Maria Teresa Schollhornabout a year ago

Thank you.