Walking While Black


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Image of Edina, Minnesota police officer Tim Olsen and pedestrian Larnie Thomas during altercation over walking on the street while sidewalk was under construction. (YouTube screenshot)

Part of a sidewalk under construction apparently forced a Minnesota man to move his trek down the street–to the street, from the sidewalk–apparently in an effort to get around the construction work site. That action apparently led to the arrest of the man identified Larnie Thomas.

Video from a bystander shows a plain-clothes Edina police officer grabbing hold of Thomas’ jacket to keep him from walking away, while Thomas protests being stopped in the first place, for walking “within the white line” in the street because the sidewalk was “closed.”

The police later issued a statement via Facebook saying that Officer Tim Olsen, a lieutenant with the Edina police force, had observed Thomas for several minutes, and had given and audible signal to move out of the roadway, before pulling his unmarked SUV in front of him:

“The officer then drove in front of the man by approximately 15 feet, to block him from continuing in the southbound lane of traffic. The man deliberately went around the squad car and continued to walk in the lane of traffic. The officer got out of his vehicle and started to follow the man, asking him to get out of the lane of traffic and stop. The man did not stop and was defiant. It was after that point that the recording began.”

After several minutes, a second officer arrives and immediately cuffs a very agitated Thomas.  According to police Thomas was released 45-minutes after being taken to the police station.

WATCH cell phone footage captured by a bystander: 

View on YouTube


In reaction to the video, state NAACP officials, are calling for the officer in question to be suspended without pay.  In a statement Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP said:

“Watching that video and seeing a black man being manhandled and emasculated by Edina Police was not only painful and humiliating, it was a vivid reminder that blacks are still too-often seen as second class citizens in the State of Minnesota and in this nation.  It is sad to say, but that man in the video could easily have been the next Philando Castile or Jamar Clark, two unarmed black men who were killed by police within the last year.” Levy-Pounds, is also a civil rights attorney.

The NAACP statement also quotes the by-stander who captured the cell phone footage:

Janel Rowles, spoke out against the man’s treatment, which she called “overzealous.”

There was absolutely no reason for the officer to stop him from walking. I easily passed him in my vehicle because he was hugging the right side next to the construction, literally walking on the white line that marks the shoulder.  I have no interest in vilifying the police, but obviously I got out of my car in the first place because I perceive the pedestrian might not get treated fairly because of his ethnicity.

The  full NAACP statement can be seen here.


Source: AURN

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