Police arrest North Carolina man for distributing voting rights leaflets

“They said they would charge me for distributing literature...”

[local LGBT activist and former State Senate candidate Ty] Turner told ThinkProgress when he was released a few hours later. “I asked [the policeman] for the ordinance number [being violated], because they can’t put handcuffs on you if they cannot tell you why they’re detaining you. I said, ‘Show me where it’s illegal to do this.’ But he would not do it. The officer got mad and grabbed me. Then he told me that I was resisting arrest!”

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  1. And lets guess what political party he was campaigning for? And lets guess what would happen to a white republican doing the same thing. A few years ago I caught a right wing republican hanging campaign literature on my own and other rural mailboxes. I told the woman to stop, that her actions were illegal. She laughed it off and continued driving around hanging them. I reported it to the post office who said they would "look into it"...guess how that worked.

    If a defense fund comes up for this guy I hope it gets posted so we can help him.

  2. daneel says:

    Funnily enough, I'm currently reading Matt Taibbi's The Divide and it's all (well, half) about this. Arresting people for 'obstructing pedestrian traffic' while standing outside their house at 1am.

  3. No, I think we can pretty safely assume that all other things being equal, there's no chance of a white guy being treated worse here. From experience. From statistics. From every single shred of evidence.

  4. It's not at all clear he was violating anything. I don't think it's constitutional to ban the distribution of literature like this, and in many similar cases the police have just made up the law on the spot. If that's the case - and I don't know about this instance - then getting the attention of as many witnesses as possible is probably the best thing to do.

    It's also a good idea to not give the police a reason to shoot you; but when you're a black man that's sometimes all the reason they need. This man may have thought, for good reason, that only a witness with a camera could save his life.

    Privileged people like me don't have this problem. If the police give me a hard time over something like this, I can expect them to listen, at least a little. At worst, I can cooperate, wear the cuffs, and expect a fair day in court. I probably won't be beaten, and I probably won't turn up dead.

  5. It is conceivable that a white person in otherwise exactly the same situation would be treated worse. If you think that's remotely likely, you live in an entirely different world than the rest of us.

    The fact that he was released a few hours later is effectively an admission that the cops were in the wrong. If he'd /actually/ broken the law and the cops had any valid basis for pulling him in, other than being annoying, he'd be facing charges.

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