Police response at Sanders speech was beyond the pale
A frame from the author’s video of the Sanders speech incident.

Police response at Sanders speech was beyond the pale

BRATTLEBORO — I was disappointed to see Randolph T. Holhut's article, “Sanders pushes progressive priorities during speech in Brattleboro” [News, Sept. 8] make no mention of the violent arrest which took place at the Labor Day event. And I was distressed to find it mentioned only in William Johnson's poorly reported letter [Voices, Sept. 8], which misrepresents several key facts.

I was one of several concerned citizens who filmed the incident as it unfolded, and I have made my recording available at youtu.be/bvxLJ5kyHFY. I encourage you to check Mr. Johnson's statements, and my own, against it.

While Mr. Johnson's letter mentions a single police officer, there were in fact two present when I started filming, and at least four by the time they confined their victim in the back of their vehicle.

Mr. Johnson reports that “the officer appeared to inform the gentleman he was under arrest,” and while I cannot categorically refute this claim, I certainly did not see or hear any such indication. Neither did I hear any officer reading their victim his Miranda rights.

In fact, the first and only words I heard from any officer were “Stop! Stop resisting!” - after they had tackled him to the ground, thus rendering resistance impossible - as they forcibly bent his arms behind his back at an angle I am certain arms were not meant to bend.

Mr. Johnson reportedly “didn't see the officer do anything unreasonable” (which of the four is he referring to, I wonder?) so I'll conclude by pointing out the most egregious unreasonable acts:

First and foremost, it was unreasonable for any police to respond to a minor faux pas; for two of them to surround an innocent man the way they did was far beyond the pale.

Second, when he attempted to leave the area (the action the cops were initially attempting to compel) they responded by violently pulling him from his bicycle and then attacking him.

And third, they broke the law when they made an arrest without reading the required Miranda rights.

As a white man, I have had the luxury of meeting recent news of police violence, brutality, and abuse with a limited palette of sorrow and anger.

On Labor Day, that luxury was stripped away as for the first time I felt fear: here was a man who looked like me, whose only offense was trying to shake someone's hand at the wrong time.

If he was not safe, then none of us are.

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