Community activists with the Black Liberation Project (BLP) say that Minneapolis police pepper sprayed and assaulted community members as they filmed a police arrest of a teenager Wednesday night. Police have opened investigations into the incident, according to officials.
In a message uploaded to the group’s Facebook and Twitter pages, Black Liberation Project, which has staged several local protests and other actions in the wake of local and national killings of black men and women by police, said that two BLP members decided to film Minneapolis police as a black teenager who was riding a bike was arrested.
“While filming this interaction, BLP members and other community members were pepper sprayed, physically assaulted, and/or thrown to the ground…This gross overreaction by MPD is dangerous, unjust, and legally flimsy,” the statement said.
The teenager, the boy’s father, another community member and one BLP member were arrested, BLP said.
Read the entire statement below.
Minneapolis police spokesman Scott Seroka said the department is conducting a criminal investigation in regards to the arrestees as well as an internal review of what happened.
According to the police report, at 10:42 p.m. Wednesday, officers saw a 16-year-old boy riding a bike across Lyndale Avenue N. near W. Broadway. Police said the teenager was interfering with traffic and causing vehicles to stop. The boy then rode his bicycle in front of a squad car when it was in the process of turning which caused the officer to have to stop.
Officers went after the teenager and told him several times to stop, but the boy continued to ride his bike east on 21st Avenue N., the report said. Police were finally able to stop the teenager when they cut him off with the squad car. After police told him repeatedly to get off the bike, the teenager refused and "tensed up in manner that he was about to fight" when an officer grabbed his arm. "Officer had to take him down to the ground," the report said.
Further in the report, police say "a crowd formed around the officers and became hostile" and three other people were arrested.
The report did not mention any filming or the use of pepper spray, though it does say one of the adult arrestees received medical treatment.
The teenager, was arrested under suspicion of obstructing the legal process, a misdemeanor. He was released to the Juvenile Supervision Center. The other three suspects were arrested for reportedly rioting, which is a felony, and were released from jail Thursday afternoon.
Black Liberation Project statement: