The NAACP Minneapolis has called for an apology and additional action from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office after the arrest of two Black women last month by sheriff’s deputies.
Makala Moore, 19, and Taylor Kueng, 20, were charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process after speaking out against the May 31 detainment of two Black men on Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall for an open bottle infraction. The men, who the women did not know, were not charged or arrested.
In a video of the arrest, captured by Kueng, Moore exclaimed, “You’re hurting me, you’re hurting me,” as one of the deputies throws her to the ground.
“Two men take me down, put their knees in my back, twist my wrists, [while] I’m wearing a dress,” said Moore at a June 14 press conference addressing the “violent mishandling,” in her words, that she and Kueng endured.
An officer is then seen in the video threatening Kueng with a Taser after she resists arrest. When asked what she is being arrested for, the officer replies, “Because.”
“For every Makala and Taylor, there are 1,000 other Makalas and Taylors that the NAACP doesn’t know about,” continued Redmond. She added that she wants the officers disciplined and actions put in place to better address police interactions with people of color.
“We want the sheriff’s office to apologize to these young women — and to Black people — because we recognize this is a systemic issue,” Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, told the MSR.
“We also want them to have better protocols when people do come to them with these issues,” she said, in addition to funds for culturally-based training. “We want them to put the money where their mouth is…to make sure that their officers know that you can’t interact with the community like this. We need better results.”
Redmond described the roadblocks she faced after the incident was brought to her attention by a Mankato State University employee (who requested anonymity), where Kueng is a student. She began her inquiry by contacting Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.
“Yesterday, I had a meeting with Chief Arradondo. He looked at the video and was very concerned.” She said Arradondo sent a text to Hennepin County Sheriff Mike Hutchinson, who simply responded that he was out of town. She was then sent to Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Tracey Martin.
“I give her [Martin] a high overview [of the incident] — she doesn’t even ask to see the video,” said Redmond. “So now the top boss [Hutchinson] didn’t want to see the video, the second one [Martin] didn’t see the video, and they send me to internal affairs.”
Redmond said after not receiving a satisfactory response from the sheriff’s office, she took her complaints to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), requesting they use their relationship with the county prosecutor’s office to address the issue.
After viewing the video, City attorneys dropped the charges hours before the young women were to appear in court. In addition, after pressure from the NAACP, fees for the women’s expungement process were also waived.
“Record, record, record,” said Redmond regarding any interactions with police. “Get your own data. Don’t wait on theirs,” she said. “This video saved the day.”
Redmond noted that many people are afraid to record such incidents because of potential repercussions. “The people recording typically get arrested, too — if not on the scene, later on. They [police] don’t want you recording their activity. They don’t want anybody questioning their authority. We must question their authority. We must record.
“They are trying to silence us. I personally want to advocate for people to not be silent. When you see something, say something. MLK said, ‘Our life ends the day we remain silent about the things that matter.’”
Moore said that despite the arrests, “I would do it again. It was definitely traumatizing to go through all of it, but I am not going to stop speaking up for people who don’t know their rights and [have] police bullying them.”
Kueng added, “We need to keep speaking up so that this doesn’t become normalized.”
“My disgust is with the sheriff’s office and how they handled it,” said Redmond. “My disgust is with the officers and the dismissal of the NAACP’s inquiry. If you handle the NAACP like this when they come to you with an issue, what are you going to do with a regular civilian when they come to you?”
The sheriff’s office released a statement following the press conference: “The sheriff’s office treats all matters of this nature seriously and will thoroughly investigate all formal complaints.”
Assaults on Black bodies continue
Blacks being wrongfully arrested with unnecessary force in Minnesota is nothing new, says NAACP Minneapolis President Leslie Redmond. “We know police officers and sheriff officers in Minnesota know how to police. They just don’t know how to do it when it’s Black bodies,” she said during a press conference.
Alarms continue being sounded across the country for these violent police interactions. A June 17 episode of former CNN contributor Roland Martin’s Facebook Live “Daily Digital Show” addressed the issue with attorney Keith White. He represents Nicholas Simon, a 17-year-old teen who was assaulted and falsely charged by the New York Police Department June 12 while walking down the street dribbling a basketball.
“This is the type of policing that’s allowed to go on in marginalized communities,” said White. “It’s the most straightforward example of police abuse. I think the reason why it hasn’t gotten more uproar is because he survived.”
“Why do we need to have our young Black boys hashtagged in order for people to care?” continued White. “We have to continue to make noise in order for us to see changes.”
In another recent incident in Phoenix, police drew guns and violently arrested Dravon Ames and his pregnant fiancee Aisha Harper in front of their two young children. The officers were responding to a call that the couple’s four-year-old daughter walked out of a store with a doll without her parents’ knowledge. The mom was so frightened for her children’s safety that she gave them to strangers who witnessed the event.
Both events were captured on video.
Redmond also is using this incident to encourage more proactive versus reactive responses from members of the community.
“It can’t just be me. It can’t just be the NAACP. This is not my fight — this is a collective Black people fight,” said Redmond. “I can’t help everyone on an individual level. We have to change the system. So, if there are good people — it doesn’t just have to be Black people — help us. Work with us to create changes.”
She further called for communities to stop living in silos. One place to connect, she said, is at the church. “I know people have different perspectives, but the church is fundamental to any revolution, any movement,” she said. “You can find Black people on Sunday in the church. There would be no Civil Rights Movement if it wasn’t for the church. There would no NAACP if it wasn’t for the church.”
Redmond added, “In addition to that, we can support Black businesses and plan. So let’s go to the Sammie’s Avenue Eateries, let’s go to the Heritage Tea Houses. Let’s go to the Golden Thymes and just be intentional.”
Stephenetta Harmon is a Black beauty editor, curator, and digital media and communications expert who builds platforms to celebrate the power, impact, and business of Black beauty. She is the former EIC for Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (2018-19) and current hosts of MSR Forefront, a bi-weekly digital roundtable series. She is founder of Sadiaa Black Beauty Guide, the premier directory dedicated to Black-owned hair and beauty businesses. Find her at stephenetta.com.