Apparently, it doesn’t matter where a black person walks in this country. Police will always find a way to arrest them and violate their rights. But this time, officers bit off more than they can chew.
Television producer Charles Belk is tall, bald, and black as are many African-American men in America. However, based on that broad description, Beverly Hills Police Department arrested Belk for simply walking down La Cienega Boulevard on Friday night. They were looking for a bank robbery suspect who fit the description, which basically means every tall, bald, and black male in Beverly Hills could have been arrested.
The arrest turned out to be false after police finally reviewed surveillance footage after six hours had passed, and the way they treated Belk has stirred outrage. Police stopped Belk, slapped on the cuffs and made him sit on the sidewalk as more police cars showed up on the scene. As Belk describes in a post on Facebook, police wasted hours processing him as a suspect and denied him his due process rights throughout the ordeal.
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.’
As anyone can plainly read, Beverly Hills police violated a slew of rights that Belk is entitled to as an American citizen. With the Ferguson, Missouri incident still fresh in our minds, one would think police across the country would be careful about how they treat suspects or anyone for that matter. It also makes one wonder how Beverly Hills police would have treated a white person under similar circumstances.
But Belk didn’t exactly let the police off the hook. He thoroughly blasted them in his post.
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.’
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was an award nominated and awarding winning business professional, most recently being recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal at their Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship Awards. They didn’t need to because, they saw someone fitting the description.
What I don’t get………WHAT I DON”T GET, is, why, during the 45 minutes that they had me on the curb, handcuffed in the sun, before they locked me up and took away my civil rights, that they could not simply review the ATM and bank’s HD video footage to clearly see that the “tall, bald headed, black male”… did not fit MY description.
The Beverly Hills Police Department has since halfheartedly apologized to Belk in a statement that reads:
“The Beverly Hills Police Department regrets the inconvenience to Mr. Belk, but was under obligation to thoroughly verify that he was not the suspect before releasing him.”
Here’s the video via Raw Story.
Again, it took six hours for police to figure out that Belk wasn’t the suspect they were looking for because they refused to watch the video tape as Belk repeatedly asked them to, and as of now, the real culprit is still out there. Had police gone on more information than just a tall, bald, and black suspect; if they had simply reviewed the tape in their possession while Belk sat on the curb, perhaps they may have the robber in custody already. Any black person fitting that feeble description could have been arrested and lined up right next to Belk that day. But unlike Belk, many other African-Americans do not necessarily have the resources to defend themselves. According to Belk’s attorney, Jaaye Person-Lynn, most black men under different circumstances would have had to wait until Monday to have their freedom restored.
It took all of ten minutes for police to watch the video tape and release Belk, and instead of doing that in the first place, they held him for six hours and denied him his rights. But it could have been worse. Belk wrote in his post that he was actually running down the sidewalk prior to police arresting him, but he had slowed down to walk in order to answer a text message before officers arrived. If he had been running, who knows what police would have done. They could have drawn their weapons and pointed them at Belk. They may have even shot him, therefore sparking a second Ferguson.
This is yet another incident where police officers overreacted and violated the constitutional rights of an innocent citizen simply because of the color of their skin. It’s true, just because Belk is connected, educated, and well-known in Hollywood, doesn’t mean police shouldn’t have done their job to check him out. But they should have compared him to the suspect in surveillance footage immediately after detaining him. But they didn’t. And for that, the Beverly Hills Police Department needs to be thoroughly investigated for their conduct and consequences need to be faced. If that doesn’t happen, police will never learn anything from their embarrassing, and sometime deadly, miscarriages of justice.