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A plainclothes police officer driving an unmarked police car had a physical encounter with a Black man in Minnesota after observing him jaywalking.

The ‘Walking While Black’ incident near a construction site in Edina, Minnesota, was captured on videotape by Janet Rowles, who sensed the man would be treated unfairly because of his race.

According to city officials, Larnie B. Thomas tested positive for alcohol, was cited for disorderly conduct and failure to obey a traffic signal, and released 45 minutes later.

Pastor Danny Givens from Above Every Name Ministries in St. Paul spoke with Roland Martin about the ‘Walking While Black’ arrest on Tuesday’s edition of NewsOne Now.

Givens told Martin the officers in Minnesota “over-police us and it continues to happen over and over again out here in Edina.”

After detailing the racially biased history of the Minnesota suburb, Pastor Givens said, “Anytime a Black man is out in Edina, they never get a fair shake.”

Martin, host and managing editor of NewsOne Now, asked Givens about the physical nature of the incident, questioning why the plainclothes officer was holding onto the African-American man and not communicating with him.

Pastor Givens responded: “White people somehow think that our Black bodies are to be objectified, commodified, and they can treat us any old kind of way. If that was a White man walking down the street in Edina, it would not have been a problem. They probably would have assisted him to the nearest grocery store and bought him a CocoLate.”

 A statement released by the Edina Police Department about the incident states:

“A video of one of our police officers is circulating online. This incident started several minutes prior to the recording. During that time, our police officer observed a man walking southbound on Xerxes Avenue at West 60th Street in the southbound lane of traffic, though there is a sidewalk on the east side and a sidewalk under construction and a paved shoulder on the west side of the street. Recognizing the risk to the safety of the public, the officer pulled in behind the man with his lights and an audible signal in an attempt to advise him to get out of the roadway. The man, who was wearing headphones, turned and looked at the officer and continued walking in the lane of traffic. The officer then drove in front of the man by approximately 15 feet, to block him from continuing in the southbound lane of traffic. The man deliberately went around the squad car and continued to walk in the lane of traffic. The officer got out of his vehicle and started to follow the man, asking him to get out of the lane of traffic and stop. The man did not stop and was defiant. It was after that point that the recording began. The officer smelled alcohol on the man’s breath during the incident. A breathalyzer later confirmed the presence of alcohol.

As a bystander, it’s your right to film officer interactions. However, it’s important to note that attempting to interact with the officer and/or suspect creates a greater risk to the safety of the officer, suspect and bystanders. Public safety is our first priority. It makes it more difficult for officers to deal with the situation on hand when they are at the same time dealing with the distractions of bystanders.”

NewsOne Now panelist Avis Jones-Deweever, author of How Exceptional Black Women Lead, said of the Edina police statement, “If you are doing what you are supposed to do, then it shouldn’t matter who’s taking video.”

She continued, “What they are taking exception to is that their asinine behavior is being exposed to the world and until this changes – and it is quite frankly not going to change until there is some repercussions behind these types of actions.”

Prior to ending their conversation, Pastor Givens said we “continue to see this is how they marginalize and oppress our people here in Minnesota.”

Watch Roland Martin, Pastor Danny Givens, and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the arrest in the video clip above.


Watch NewsOne Now with Roland Martin, in its new time slot on TV One.


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