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Ty Turner


It’s always interesting to see what minor infractions select police officers decide to enforce and to what extent. While I can admittedly attest to the occasional annoyance of finding one too many leaflets on my car, I don’t believe the offending party needs to be manhandled for what essentially boils down to an awfully petty matter. Former North Carolina State Senate candidate and local LGBT activist Ty Turner found himself cuffed and arrested after being discovered sticking voter rights leaflets on parked cars. Technically, there is a reported local ordinance prohibiting this, though as another local activist Casey Throneburg explained to Think Progress, rarely is it enforced and “certainly not with handcuffs.”

RELATED: [VIDEO] Activist Detained For Distributing Voting Rights Information 

As for the arrest in question, Turner paints a scene that sounds far too antagonistic given the situation at hand (via Think Progress):

“They said they would charge me for distributing literature. I asked [the policeman] for the ordinance number [being violated], because they can’t put handcuffs on you if they cannot tell you why they’re detaining you. I said, ‘Show me where it’s illegal to do this.’ But he would not do it. The officer got mad and grabbed me. Then he told me that I was resisting arrest!”

And of course there’s video:

Why so hostile for something so insignificant? Why are police officers so impatient in properly explaining the laws they are called to enforce? Does this officer hate being challenged that much?

If the optics weren’t already bad enough, make note that just a few hundred of feet away from where all of this went down, the state’s “Moral Mondays” demonstrators were at an area park condemning the state’s record on voter suppression and racial profiling.

Whew, I can feel Jesse Jackson’s blood pressure rising.

Of course, the frustration felt in North Carolina is shared elsewhere in the country as Blacks are encouraged to play a more active role in the midterm elections — in the face of organized efforts to stop them in states like Texas. There are young Black people mounting legal challenges to the restrictive voter ID laws in that state, but it just goes to show how much effort goes in to stopping us from exercising our rights as citizens.

Not only the effort, but the hostility often behind it.

Just a few weeks ago, another video surfaced of yet another Black person being met with unnecessary aggression by a member of law enforcement. Indeed, while trying to deliver some 70,000 signatures calling on a special prosecutor to take the reigns of the investigation in to Michael Brown’s death, Missouri State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed had a run-in with an area cop. While jostling with the police officer, Nasheed could be heard shouting, “Take your hands off me, don’t touch me, I’m a state senator.”

I suppose all that officer saw was a Black face, which canceled everything else out.

Just this week, Laura Ingraham alleged that voter registration efforts led by Democrats are “divisive” and went on to accuse them of “exploiting” the events that have taken place in Ferguson, Missouri. So voter drives are “divisive,” but the killing of an unarmed Black teen or the horrific treatment of peaceful protestors by law enforcement is not?


Moreover, Ingraham argues that promoting Black people to exercise their civic duty in this manner (which is only diabolical in her mind) is “cynical, counterproductive, and revealing.”

Yes, it is, though not for the reasons Ingraham would suggest to her like-minded racist viewers watching FOX News. It’s cynical of politicians and the police officers they get to do their dirty work to stop Black people from voting altogether instead of just trying to win our support. It’s counterproductive to give us a hard time for behaving like American citizens, when time and time again, Black people have proven that when met with hostility from the powers that be, we push forward. That said, yes, Laura Ingraham, your thoughts and actions are quite revealing.

It just goes to show no matter if you’re committing a petty crime or acting peacefully and lawfully, if you are Black, you can be treated as a pariah and met with aggression from those hired to protect and serve you. How dare we expect better.

Michael Arceneaux blogs at, tweets at @youngsinick, and praises Beyoncé’s name everywhere he goes.


When Black People Dare To Behave Like Citizens All Hell Breaks Loose  was originally published on