The PJ Tatler

NAACP Links Fare Evasion Arrest to Ferguson

Draon Armstrong, a 21-year-old black man from Minneapolis, was caught in a fare zone at a light rail station without a paid ticket. During the confrontation with Minneapolis police, Armstrong was thrown to the ground after making “a slight movement” during a handcuffing procedure. The incident was captured on video by Armstrong’s sister.

The local chapter of the NAACP has since called for changes to law enforcement policies. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports:

NAACP officials called the officer’s actions “excessive force,” which they said raises wider concerns about the treatment of black people by law enforcement in Minneapolis.

“The video footage of Draon Armstrong being slammed to the ground by the Metro Transit officer further supports our claims that Minneapolis is one incident away from becoming Ferguson,” Jason Sole, chairman of the NAACP’s criminal justice form committee, said in a statement.

Sole referred to rioting that took place after a fatal police shooting last summer of an unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo.

The article does not specify what particular reforms the NAACP would like to see. Sole merely calls for “‘more humane ways’ to address those who don’t pay fares.”

The problem is, according to police, the non-payment was not the trigger for escalated force:

“The arrest in question was made after the suspect indicated they had no intention of addressing their alleged fare evasion and repeated refusals to follow the arresting officer’s lawful orders,” [Metro Transit spokesmen] Drew Kerr said in a statement. “When a suspect resists arrest, officers are trained to maintain safety by bringing a suspect to the ground.”

The NAACP makes it sound like Armstrong was thrown to the ground for being black. They don’t acknowledge his behavior at all.

Had Armstrong been tackled for not having a ticket, the NAACP might have a point. But, according to police, that’s not what happened. He failed to comply with lawful orders. If police can’t escalate levels of force when that happens, then their orders (and the law) mean nothing.