A transit police officer in Cleveland pepper-sprayed a group of people on July 26 at a bus stop across the street from Cleveland State University. It was about an hour after the Movement for Black Lives gathering concluded.
Video captured by Twitter user @KentaviousPrime shows the white officer in the street rushing into a crowd. He sprays the canister at everyone nearby until it is empty.
The Cleveland transit police apparently believed a 14-year-old black boy was “intoxicated to the point where he was unable to care for himself.” Officers slammed the boy to the ground, detained him, and angered the crowd, which included activists leaving the gathering. The boy was put into a police car, which the crowd surrounded to stop police from taking him.
According to activists at the scene, the boy had a Snapple drink. This was probably the open container the police seized upon as justification for making an arrest.
None of the witnesses at the scene corroborated the police claim that the boy was drunk.
A statement from the transit police declared, “A transit police officer used a general burst of pepper spray in an attempt to push back the crowd, to no avail.”
Shooting a stream of pepper-spray, especially about an hour after a major conference of freedom fighters, could never be reasonably expected to contain or control a crowd. The one officer spraying is terribly reckless in his attempt to drive people away from the scene, and, as transit police seem to admit, the pepper-spray only inflamed the situation more.
As the local NBC affiliate, WKYC, reported:
“I was told the police are pepper spraying people down the street, and I’m seeing people run for milk so they can be protected from pepper spray all because people are asking what happening to a young man,” said Rhonda Y. Williams, history professor at Case Western Reserve and member of the Cleveland Eight. “When we have an officer who comes out of nowhere and is pushing people and then takes out and just starts spraying with his pepper spray, that’s not deescalation.”