Black Liberation member claims cops pepper-sprayed bystanders

Jobi Adams claims the situation escalated when a cop filmer was arrested.

Jobi Adams claims the situation escalated when a cop filmer was arrested.

Last week we reported allegations from local activist group Black Liberation Project that Minneapolis police officers pepper sprayed and roughed up its members and others during a North Side arrest. Jobi Adams, a witness and member of the Black Liberation Project, has since shared his version of how it went down.

Adams and a friend were leaving a north Minneapolis grocery store the night of July 29. The two noticed a teenage boy riding his bike on the sidewalk when the kid cruised in front of a cop car “pulling out of a parking lot.” The cops whipped a U-turn and headed toward the boy. After the squad car pulled over, Adams says the cops pulled the teen off his bike. Adams and his friend hurriedly stopped their car, jumped out and his friend started filming the exchange near Lyndale and 21st avenues north, according to Adams.

“The boy kept asking, ‘Why are you arresting me? Why are you arresting me?’” Adams says. “The police wouldn’t answer him. All of his friends were like, ‘What? He didn’t do anything. Why are you arresting him?’ And [the cops] kept yelling, ‘Get the fuck away or we’ll arrest you!’”

At this point Adams, 20, estimates eight or so people were watching from the sidewalk, including a woman on the opposite side of the street from them who also appeared to be filming with her cellphone. It wasn’t clear to Adams why, but “the next thing we knew” the police were “slamming” the woman against their car and arresting her, heightening tension among the bystanders, Adams claims.

“When that happened, everybody who was out there watching started screaming at the cops — ‘What the fuck are you doing? Why are you doing this?’” Adams recalls.

The teen’s father emerged wanting to know why his son, who was in the back of a squad car, was being arrested. “The officer responded with, ‘Get the fuck out of my face!’” Adams alleges. The father continued asking about his son and was pepper sprayed, according to Adams. “He didn’t do anything. He literally just stood there and was like, ‘That’s your answer?’” Adams claims.

As the squad car carrying the teen started to leave, the boy’s father grabbed at the door handle trying to get to his son, Adams says. Adams’ friend, a fellow Black Liberation Project member, “hopped in front of the squad car that was driving away and kept filming.” An unidentified man was in the street “banging his fist against the squad car and a bunch of people were screaming and yelling at the cops” from the sidewalk. The car pounder and several others were pepper sprayed, and Adams got the eye-burning treatment when he went to help the man in the street, he claims.

Eventually, Adams’ friend started heading back to their car to get something to help cleanse pepper-sprayed eyes. The two noticed “little red dots” on them, which they believed were from Tasers, and more squad cars arrived on the scene. An officer yelled at Adams’ friend to “get on the ground.” Another cop ordered Adams to do the same and the two obliged with hands behind their heads, Adams claims. With his stomach pressed to the ground, Adams watched as his friend was arrested.

“I just saw officers, there were two of them, who got on my friend and one of ‘em had their knee on her head and she kept screaming, ‘I’m not resisting! I’m not resisting!’” Adams claims. “Then they handcuffed her and they picked her up, and the next thing I knew they slammed her back on the ground.”

Adams’ friend and the boy’s father were among the three adults arrested, Adams says. According to the Star Tribune, the teenager was arrested under suspicion of obstructing the legal process.

Adams says they have not filed a formal complaint at this time and that the video footage was lost during his friend’s “aggressive arrest.” The Minneapolis Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.