Showing posts with label Black Community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Community. Show all posts

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Officer Brooks and Angel Guice

I am not overly fond of police officers. Some percentage are just not very nice people, whether they are being rude and officious, enforcing laws differently depending on race, or using unnecessary force simply because they felt like humiliating, hurting, or killing someone--often African-American. 
Obviously there are also many decent officers who do their job. 

Unless an officer's request is obviously unlawful and/or you are ready to throw down, I would advise most people to use the courts to battle a police officer they believe is wrong.

Recently an Atlanta police officer stopped the actress Angel Guice and her male companion for being in a park after hours. I thought a warning was sufficient. However, the police officer chose to issue the couple tickets. In Georgia, you are apparently required to sign a ticket. The man signed his ticket. Ms. Guice refused to sign hers.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Delaware State University Women's Lacrosse Team Racially Profiled in Georgia

The problem with a great many police is that they simply do not believe that Black people have constitutional rights. 

Courts and juries too often support police in this belief and practice. 

Therefore police are quite comfortable subjecting Black people to apparent Fourth Amendment violations. 

Although a recent example of this took place in the deep South in a state with a long sordid history of official law enforcement hostility to Black Americans, the facts are that this kind of thing happens all over the United States. As courts won't reign in these violations, eventually Black citizens will need to do so.  

DOVER, Delaware (WPVI) -- Delaware State University announced Friday it will be taking legal action against the sheriff's department in Liberty County, Georgia, calling a search following a traffic stop last month involving the university's women's lacrosse team "constitutionally dubious."

Law enforcement bodycam footage from April 20 shows sheriff's deputies in Georgia board a bus carrying the Delaware State University women's lacrosse team. The sheriff's office says it pulled over the bus for riding in the left lane. That minor traffic infraction turned into a drug search.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

#BLM: Dealing In Dirt And Stealing In The Name Of The Lord

In the George Orwell book Animal Farm, the farm animals successfully revolt against the cruel human overlord and his minions. The pigs, being more intelligent and selfish, seize leadership and gradually return the other animals to their previous low status. 

The pigs either rewrite the rules or employ insulting lawyerly sophistries to declare that a violation of both the word and spirit of the commandment is actually no violation at all. The pigs claim any detractor is a traitor working with the humans. 

I recalled this fiction when I ran across a news story about a similar set of pigs evidently working assiduously to enrich themselves from the blood, sweat, and tears of those they apparently regard as less than.

On a sunny day late last spring, three leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement — Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Melina Abdullah — sat around a table on the patio of an expensive house in Southern California. 

“For me, the hardest moments have been the right-wing-media machine just leveraging literally all its weight against me, against our movement, against BLM the organization,” Cullors said. “I’m some weeks out now from a lot of the noise, so I have more perspective, right? While I was in it, I was in survival mode.” She was referring to an April 2021 article in the New York Post that revealed her purchase of four homes for nearly $3 million.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Asian Man in Ypsilanti Michigan Shoots Six Year Old Black Boy: Gets Low Bond And Is Released

Do you remember when you were six years old? Do you remember playing outside with your friends, siblings, and other relatives? Maybe you liked to jump rope. Maybe you liked to play hopscotch and drew multicolored squares on the sidewalk. 
Maybe you played tag. Maybe you played red rover or dodgeball or stickball. Maybe you played with dolls and had tea parties. Maybe you picked flowers. Maybe you played with legos or blocks. Maybe you even rode your bicycle or tricycle. 
Chances are, no matter what you did, you likely got on some adult's nerves at some point in time. But the chances are also very good that no adult ever physically assaulted you or tried to shoot and kill you over your play. Unfortunately a six year Black boy named Coby Daniel can no longer make that statement.

YPSILANTI, Mich. (FOX 2) - An Ypsilanti boy is recovering after being threatened with a sledgehammer and then shot as he retrieved his bike from his neighbor's front yard. Arnold Daniel says his kids were outside on their bikes on Candlewood Lane in Ypsilanti when they stopped their bikes and left one of them in front of a neighbor's home. 
When Coby went back to get his bike, Daniel said the neighbor came out with a sledgehammer in his hand and said something to the boy. Daniel said he didn't know exactly what was said but knows his son said something back. After that, the neighbor went back inside and Daniel said he shot a gun through the front window, hitting Coby in the arm.
Ring doorbell footage captured children screaming and scattering down the sidewalk of a residential street after a single gunshot is heard.
“He tried hitting me with a sledgehammer but that’s not going to work because I’m too fast,” Coby Daniel told Fox 2. “[Then he] got a gun and BOOM shot me right here.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Georgia Republicans Attack Black Voting

A constant in American politics and society is that white racists create rules to exclude Black people from enjoying benefits or from accessing certain constitutionally guaranteed rights. 
When Black people figure out a way around, over, under or through those roadblocks the racists retreat to a prearranged rally point and create new rules to continue doing (exclusion and prevention) what the older rules can no longer legally accomplish. The mid 20th century Civil Rights movements removed many of the explicit anti-Black rules. But there was always a backlash. Forced to let Black people into public pools? Close down all the public pools. Forced public school integration? Depart districts with Black residents or send your children to exclusive private schools which can legally discriminate. Forced to hire Black people? Hire some but make things so unpleasant that they leave on their own. 
Forced to let Black people vote, as if they are American citizens or something? Can't bring out the dogs, thugs, and firehoses as much as you would like?  Well change the rules to target Black voters. We should remember the intellectual Godfather of post WW American conservatism and founder of the National Review, William F. Buckley, made a name for himself by opposing voting rights for Black people:
The central question that emerges-and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalogue of the rights of American citizens, born Equal-is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes -the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.
Although Buckley later disavowed this view it was then and is now the driving motivation for many American conservatives. They don't like the idea of Blacks voting. So if Buckley were still alive (and honest) I think he would applaud the actions of Georgia Republicans, who, evidently shell shocked by Republican losses in Senate races and the Presidential race, have targeted Black voters with military specificity and extreme malice.
Now, Georgia Republicans are proposing new restrictions on weekend voting that could severely curtail one of the Black church’s central roles in civic engagement and elections. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Armed Citizens Escort Black Michigan Legislator to Work

One would imagine because of the ugly history and current situation of Black Americans: Slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, pogroms, constant police brutality and murder, genocidal hate groups, Confederate apologists, etc, that Black Americans would be the biggest and most vociferous proponents of the Second Amendment and armed self-defense that one might find in any nation in history. 

Well one would be wrong. Still, eventually, I suppose it finally might get thru to folks that when you're dealing with hateful irrational unstable armed people, it's in your best interest to be armed as well. 

You may recall that the recent anti-shutdown protests in Lansing, Michigan saw mostly white armed individuals enter the Capitol building, shrieking and yelling. Some had Nazi flags, Confederate Battle Flags and nooses.

Despite all this, given that Michigan law allows open carry (and that the protesters were Caucasian), the Michigan State Police refused to take any aggressive action against the protesters. Somehow other various police forces haven't always shown such restraint when a Black person has attempted to exercise his or her right to open carry in Michigan but I digress.

Anyhow, either to make a point or because she was honestly scared, Michigan Representative Sarah Anthony accepted escort by armed Black citizens. 

WEDNESDAY, May 6 — After a horde of armed and angry protesters swarmed Lansing last week, State Rep. Sarah Anthony brought some extra protection on her way to the State Capitol today.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Bill Maher and Coronavirus Controversy

It's rare that Bill Maher and I are on the same side of the issue. But Maher recently pointed out something that was previously posted on this blog. The coronavirus apparently started in Wuhan, China. It is not racist to say that.

Maher did not put on yellowface and say that the virus started in China. He didn't pull up the sides of his eyelids, use racial slurs for Chinese, or deliberately affect a bad Chinese accent. Maher didn't start ranting that the pandemic proved that Chinese were inferior and should be repatriated from Western nations or exterminated altogether. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

In For A Penny In For A Pound

The thing about most criminals is that they are cowards. They pick on people whom, in the criminal's estimation, can't or won't fight back. 

They attack people when they think they outnumber their would be prey. 

But of course law abiding people, who don't make their living kicking in people's doors and then raping, robbing or killing other people, get tired of being potential or actual victims. Some of them take steps to ensure that criminals will learn, the hard way, if need be, that criminal behavior is not a cost free activity.

Although I don't think this incident was funny per se, I did find it grimly appropriate that the Big Bad Wolf turned Little Bo Peep once confronted with equivalent or superior firepower. 

As I've mentioned before I do not doubt that some of this criminal behavior is driven by fatherless homes, self-hate and lack of respect for others caused by internalized racism, short time perspectives, greed, over investment in material acquisition, lack of economic opportunity and so on. I think that a civilized society must do its best to address those issues before they erupt in violence.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Detroit Elementary School Wins Chess State Championship

A downtown Detroit elementary school has recently won a chess state championship. Again. I am sure that this must be surprising to those who believe that all Detroit public schools are blasted wastelands where intellectual capacity is non-existent.

The chess team at Walter Chrysler Elementary School in Detroit took home the state championship.

A large banner signalling the championship is hanging in front of the elementary school for the second year in a row. The chess team won the state championship for the K-5 division.

“I can’t even explain how happy I am for them,” chess coach Dereke Wilder said. “It’s phenomenal to see what these kids have accomplished these last two years.”

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Oakland: Rental Criminal Background Checks Now Illegal!

It is my belief and often state or federal law that it's wrong to mistreat someone for an immutable characteristic. Refusing to hire or rent to someone because of race or religion is wrong. 

Assuming a young woman woman will become pregnant and declining to hire or promote her is wrong. And so on. 

Now unfortunately there are loopholes in and ways around all of those restrictions.  A racist can't legally place a "No N*****s!!!"  clause in her company's hiring policy but no one can force her to mentor Black employees with the same vigor that she does for others. Still, laws that prevent mistreatment for race, religion, ethnicity are good things. It's trickier when we make laws to prevent differential treatment for actual individual past wrong doing. The city of Oakland has banned most background check usage by landlords.

Oakland became the first city in California to ban criminal background checks in most housing applications for private and other rental units under a measure adopted by the City Council on Tuesday. The council unanimously passed a “fair chance housing” ordinance that bars landlords from conducting criminal background checks on prospective tenants. 

The ordinance in Oakland is the first to include rental units outside subsidized affordable and nonprofit housing. The measure, supporters say, could prevent homelessness and bring down the recidivism rate. 

“There is only one place in America that any one of us is guaranteed a roof over our heads and that is in prison,” said John Jones III, campaign director for Alameda County Fair Chance to Housing Coalition. “All of us seek to have safe shelter. That should not be a matter of privilege.”

Applicants who believe they were discriminated against due to their criminal background can file a complaint with the city or a lawsuit. The city can issue penalties of up to $1,000 per violation.
If a private action is filed, a court could award damages

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Benin Bronzes and Colonial Theft

In the movie Black Panther, Killmonger talks to a British museum curator, testing her expertise on various African artwork and artifacts. When Killmonger finds the item he's looking for and not so coincidentally tells the curator that she is incorrect about its origin, he informs her that she need not worry about such things any more as he is going to take it off her hands. 

She haughtily tells him that the item is not for sale. Killmonger asks her how does she think her ancestors obtained these items in the first place? Did they pay a fair price for them? Or did they, secure in their greater capacity for violence and total contempt for anyone not white, just take them. It's a powerful scene.

People, unfortunately especially people who are descended from colonizers and imperialists, often forget that much of the world's greatest art is in European museums not because of honest trade but because of violence and theft. I was reminded of this because of a recent NY Times article that detailed the halting and slow efforts of two people to convince European museums (in this case a British one) to do the right thing and return stolen art (in this case masks from Benin in what is now Nigeria).

In 2004, Steve Dunstone and Timothy Awoyemi stood on a boat on the bank of the River Niger. In the back of the crowd, Mr. Awoyemi, who was born in Britain and grew up in Nigeria, noticed two men holding what looked like political placards. They didn’t come forward, he said. But just as the boat was about to push off, one of the men suddenly clambered down toward it. “He had a mustache, scruffy stubble, about 38 to 40, thin build,” Mr. Dunstone recalled recently. “He was wearing a white vest,” he added. The man reached out his arm across the water and handed Mr. Dunstone a note, then hurried off with barely a word. 

That night, Mr. Dunstone pulled the note from his pocket. Written on it were just six words: “Please help return the Benin Bronzes.” At the time, he didn’t know what it meant. But that note was the beginning of a 10-year mission that would take Mr. Dunstone and Mr. Awoyemi from Nigeria to Britain and back again, involve the grandson of one of the British soldiers responsible for the looting, and see the pair embroiled in a debate about how to right the wrongs of the colonial past that has drawn in politicians, diplomats, historians and even a royal family. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Racist Police in an Indiana Nordstrom

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg recently threw his hat in the Presidential race. African-American NYT columnist Charles Blow wrote a column excoriating both Bloomberg for his stop-and-frisk policy and those people who supported him. Many self-identified otherwise liberal commenters responded negatively to Blow's column. They suggested openly and in code that they were willing to ignore the Fourth Amendment rights of Black men and boys in NYC because it made the white commenters feel safer. And anyway stop and frisk was good for Black people, regardless of what Black people seemed to think.

It's probably important to remind people what it looks and sounds like when an armed agent of the state stops a citizen and attempts to harass or bully him solely because of the color of his skin. This being America, one doesn't have to wait long for such an example. In Indiana a suburban Indianapolis police officer decided that two Black men looked suspicious because they shopped at Nordstrom. 

Apparently Deputy Constable Daryl Jones doesn't think Black men should be stopping at Nordstrom. The officer is sending the message that he doesn't want Black men in that area. And given that this person had both a gun and a license from the state to use it, things could have gone very badly for the two Black men. Fortunately they are still alive and unharmed. Still, it is my hypothesis that the continual flight or fight responses engendered by hostile racist encounters, and the adrenaline and cortisol produced, likely play a role in the higher hypertension rates and earlier death rates experienced by Black men in America. Notice that Jones becomes hyper agitated when the men stand up for their rights. This leads me to believe that the real issue is that like a typical racist Jones believes that whiteness makes him always right.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Detroit Slumlord Michael Kelly Continues to Profit

The city of Detroit, my hometown, can be akin to the Wild Wild West when it comes to basic things such as the buying, selling, renting, and maintaining of property. Local ordinances and state laws tend to be biased towards landlords and/or the wealthy. 

Because Detroit is physically a huge place, six times larger than Manhattan, twice as large as Brooklyn, and about one and half times the size of Boston, the relevant regulators lack the time or resources (or often the interest) to catch enough bad actors to enforce compliance. 

As drivers know, the mere knowledge that police whom you see and don't see are occasionally watching you can "convince" you to travel at or around the posted speed limits. But if people knew that police generally weren't watching or could only give $5 tickets when they caught someone doing 95mph, then more and more people would speed.

Many Black Detroit homeowners are caught in a vicious cycle. They weren't earning a lot thanks to job market discrimination. Banks also discriminated against Blacks by trapping them into mortgages with higher interest and fees than their credit scores justified. This left them with less money available to repair their homes or ride out job loss or medical emergencies. Making matters worse the City of Detroit maintained very high property taxes to try to make up for white flight and increasingly black flight. When downturns occurred many Detroiters ended up losing their homes and had to become renters.  Many then became tenants of people like Michael Kelly.

Darlene Spells let out an exaggerated sigh as her son Corey peeled away the black tarp lining the front wall of the living room. Behind the plastic, where one would typically expect some sort of plaster sheeting, thin slats of wood lay stacked like rotting Lincoln Logs.

"Corey, show the bathroom too!" Spells directed from her bed in the room next door. Upstairs, more slats of wood peeked out below the shower head. The real damage, however, was only really understood when standing in the downstairs kitchen, where a yellow stain metastasized across the wood-fiber ceiling. The leak had been going on for years, she said.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Michigan White Woman Calls Police On Black Man For Reckless Eyeballing

American Black men who are present where white people think they shouldn't be are in danger of either being assaulted (if the white person in question happens to be male and/or larger than you) or of being arrested by the police (if the white person in question happens to be female and/or smaller than you).

This was often called "reckless eyeballing" after the southern habit of arresting black men accused of looking at a white woman. Looking a white woman in the eyes, or with with what she thought was sexual interest, or just making her uncomfortable could and did lead to arrest, assaults, beatings, lynchings, murders and pogroms.  

Matt Ingram was among the last convicted under this framework, in a 1951 case made notorious by civil rights activists in North Carolina. A seventeen-year-old white woman named Willa Jean Boswell testified that she was scared when her neighbor Ingram looked at her from a distance of about 65 feet. Prosecutors demanded a conviction of assault with intent to rape that was reduced to assault on a female by the judge, leading to a two-year sentence.

At the appeal in Superior Court, the judge instructed the jury that Ingram was guilty if he used “intentional threats or menace of violence such as looking at a person in a leering manner, that is, in some sort of sly or threatening or suggestive manner…he causes another to reasonably apprehend imminent danger” The all-white jury again returned a conviction, leading to a six-month sentence of labor on the roads, suspended for five years.

Cases like this were why many older Black men I know avoided even transparently consensual and utterly platonic interactions with white women. They considered it imprudent or even dangerous. But times have changed have they not? Well they have and have not. Recently not far from me, this happened:

Royal Oak police have launched an internal investigation after officers stopped and questioned a black man reportedly because a white woman said he looked at her suspiciously. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Robert Smith's Act of Charity

When you do something good for people you should be praised for your actions. You may have heard that Black American billionaire Robert Smith attended the 2019 Morehouse commencement where he promised to pay off the entire student loan debt of the graduating class, a gift that will amount to the not insignificant sum of about $40 million. 

Billionaire Robert F. Smith, who received an honorary doctorate at Morehouse College’s Sunday morning graduation exercises, had already announced a $1.5 million gift to the schoolBut during his remarks in front of the nearly 400 graduating seniors, the technology investor and philanthropist surprised nearly everyone by announcing that his family was providing a grant to eliminate the student debt of the entire Class of 2019. 

This is my class,” he said, “and I know my class will pay this forward.” The announcement came as a surprise to Smith’s staff and to the staff at Morehouse, and elicited the biggest cheers of the morning.

About 400 new graduates, predominantly Black men, will be able to start their professional life without any student debt. An adult's twenties and thirties are critical times to establish savings, investments, retirement accounts and capital for business creation. It is also a time to save money for marriage and child care costs. There is a huge wealth gap between Black and White Americans. There is a student loan gap between Black and White Americans. Black Americans owe more in student loans and earn less after graduation, in large part because of discrimination. So when Smith stepped up to do his part to help Black people who were in a tight spot, you might reasonably think that he would be universally lauded.

And you would be wrong.

Friday, December 21, 2018

No Heat in NYC Public Housing

What do you do when your furnace doesn't work? Well if you own your own home then you will spend money to fix it. But if you rent your living space then your reasonable expectation (assuming that the landlord has responsibility for heat) is that your landlord will fix the malfunctioning furnace. 

If the landlord shows that he is incapable of fixing the furnace, won't fix the furnace from spite, or won't fix the furnace because he wants you to move, then you would probably stop paying the rent and/or sue the landlord. If you were a younger more excitable respect obsessed person you might even appear at your landlord's place of business to take a more "hands-on" approach to the discussion. Whatever you decide to do it's pretty clear that the landlord is breaking the deal that both of you signed. You pay rent. He provides a livable space for the agreed period of time. It's not a complicated relationship.

But this relationship doesn't work for everybody. If you are poor and black (or poor and hispanic or even poor and white) the system is not designed to work for you. Most middle class or upper class people would raise holy hell if they lived in a place without heat. Systems are created so that that doesn't happen. But when you lack money people with power don't expeditiously respond to your complaints. And tragically many poor people learn not to bother complaining.

Evelyn and Franklin Badia’s wish of qualifying for a public housing apartment became a reality in 2011 after eight years of waiting.  Then it got cold outside. Inside, too. The heat in their apartment — owned by the New York City Housing Authority, also known as Nycha — didn’t work that winter, or any winter after, they said. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Detroit Church Beset By Break-ins

In the movie Leaves of Grass a gentle religious character explains her belief that the world is broken, but that it's up to us to fix it. In his works The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion the devout Catholic J.R.R.Tolkien imagined that the force of evil had permanently marred the material world as far back as creation. 

In his Perelandra trilogy Tolkien's friend C.S. Lewis similarly posited an evil force that dominated the planet, had perverted humanity, and if left unchallenged would ultimately destroy human kind. Theodicy is a question that has never been resolved as far as I can tell. Not only can we not agree on why evil exists, but we can't really agree on what to do about it.The Bible has contradictory advice. God told us that accounts would be and should be settled.
And I will execute great vengeance upon them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall lay my vengeance upon them.
And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Jesus told us to resist not evil, turn the other cheek and don't attempt to get our stolen goods back.
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 
But Jesus never lived in Detroit...

Friday, July 27, 2018

Another Black Man Dead: Florida's Stand Your Ground Law

I don't have a problem with people using deadly violence to defend themselves anywhere from the threat or reality of deadly violence. Whether you are in your home, car, or walking the street I don't think that you must let someone initiate and continue felony violence on you and wait and see what their intentions are. I have little sympathy for the carjacker who gets shot in the face by his would be victim, for the rapist who gets stabbed in the yarbles by a woman armed with a knife, for the burglar who gets ripped to pieces by the homeowner's trained Rottweilers, for the mugger who makes the mistake of trying to assault an unassuming kung fu expert..Those criminals knew the risks of their trade; they paid the price. So it goes.

But "Stand your ground laws" ,at least in the case of Florida, seem to be something different. Self-defense should be about using defense proportionate to the attack AND making sure that there is an attack. If someone steps on my shoe, depending on both our moods that day, I may just keep moving and say nothing. I may say something. The offender and I both may end up yelling obscenities at each other or worse. Stuff happens. But whatever happens most people would agree that even if the person deliberately stepped on my shoe I would be (no pun intended) jumping the gun to pull out my firearm and shoot him dead. 

Even if I thought that this person might be a later threat at the time that I used deadly force against him he was no threat. So self-defense doesn't apply. Also I shouldn't be able to go around deliberately stepping on people's shoes and shooting the first person who responds physically, claiming I was standing my ground. In practice however, Florida's stand your ground law gives the benefit of the doubt to the shooter, regardless of the circumstances, especially if the shooter is white and the decedent is black.

LARGO — Prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump stood in front of the Pinellas County Justice Center on Thursday and demanded justice for the family of Markeis McGlockton.
Flanked by the slain man’s parents and girlfriend, Crump told reporters that McGlockton’s shooting death last week was "cold-blooded murder ... by the self-appointed, wannabe cop Michael Drejka."

Friday, July 20, 2018

Police Officer Sexually Assaults Black Man in Washington D.C.

What exactly is the proper protocol to use when someone attempts to sexually assault you? Well there isn't any one correct response for every situation. Some victims may fight back; others may try to escape or run away. Still others may freeze and just attempt to survive. 

It all depends on the victim's perception of his or her circumstances. It's all very easy to say what someone should have done if you're not that person, weren't in their situation, and have never been so violated. Sheep can talk a lot of nonsense about what they would do to the wolves...right up until the time that the wolves show up. 
Stop fingering me though, bruh!” That’s what one Washington, D.C., man told a metro police officer during a body cavity search on Sept. 27, 2017, according to the ACLU. Now the civil rights group is helping him sue the police department, calling video of the incident “shocking and unjustified.”

The lawsuit says it began when officers drove up to 39-year-old M.B. Cottingham and friends as they sat on folding chairs on a public sidewalk. There was an open bottle of alcohol nearby, and they were celebrating Cottingham’s birthday, according to the lawsuit.

Officers pulled up and asked whether the group had weapons, and they said they did not. The lawsuit says it was not clear why the officers pulled up in the first place, as the open bottle of alcohol was “was on the ground at the curb behind a parked car” and not visible from the middle of the street.