ROGERS PARK — North Side police officers have become unwitting stars of a viral Facebook video that allegedly shows a young person being arrested for rapping an anti-police N.W.A song.
Filming of the incident began around 5:30 p.m. on August 13, according Cassidy Kearns, who said he happened upon the scene after getting off the Morse Red Line and saw a confrontation between two young black men and police. So, he started recording.
In the background, a person the police say is a juvenile can be seen in handcuffs sitting in a police SUV with the door open. The video starts after the boy has already been taken into police custody.
The incident occurred directly across the street from Howard Area Youth Center, 1527 W. Morse Ave., where an "active gang war" has been raging in the neighborhood as of late. The confrontation came one day after a 22-year old man was shot on the same block.
Watch the video here:
At least three other people who witnessed the event stayed on site and confronted the arresting officers — including one who identified himself in the video as Officer "Walton" before listing his badge number — about what they felt was an unjust arrest.
One witness repeatedly demanded to know why the youth was being detained, saying that they had only been "rapping on the sidewalk." In the video, that person can be heard arguing that the youth's First Amendment rights had been quashed by police after the boy supposedly rapped "F--- The Police" — one of N.W.A.'s most well-known songs.
“It’s freedom of speech, he can say ‘F--- the police’ all he want to, just like N.W.A. said and got paid...you can’t lock him up for saying ‘F--- the police,'” a man in the video is seen saying.
An officer responds by saying, “If that’s what you believe, you may believe that and that’s your right.”
Police tell Linze Rice that the juvenile was arrested for a bike violation:
At first, it appears as if the youth is only being detained.
But shortly after talking with the youth, Walton turns around and announced, "Now he's getting arrested."
Chicago Police Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement to DNAinfo:
"Following complaints regarding bicyclists involved in robbery incidents, CPD officers in the 24th district observed a juvenile operating a bicycle in an unsafe fashion and traveling on a city sidewalk, which is not permitted by law. The juvenile operator did not have any identification and was taken into police custody to verify his identity and processed for ordinance violations."
According to city data, there have been no reports of robberies in the Rogers Park community area between Aug. 5-18, though there have been 10 reports of burglaries. However only one burglary has been reported between those dates in the police beat where the youth was apprehended.
In one exchange, a man in the video asks why the youth is under arrest, to which the officer responds, “I told you it’s none of your business cause you’re not family, right? Are you family?”
The man responds by saying, “I got the time, and the date and your badge number, so if anything happens, I know that young man.”
Rogers Park Police District Sgt. Shawn Sisk said officers "don't arrest people for rapping," and said that in today's digital age, it's now common for people to witness and film any interaction with police — good or bad — though often videos miss the full story and context of an event, he said.
"When you have somebody video taping you on the street, if it doesn't concern them or a family member we're not gonna be talking about what we're charging people with," Sisk said. "We don't charge people with rapping, though. That's not a charge."
In the video, the officer who identifies himself as Walton can be seen carrying a bike from the sidewalk and placing it into the trunk of his vehicle.
The verbal confrontation was captured by at least one other person who can be seen filming in the video.
The man continues to press Walton, saying: “There is nothing illegal about rapping out loud so what did he do?”
From there, the argument's tension increases as the man says he doesn't think the youth should be detained or in handcuffs without his parents present.
After Walton follows with, "Really, you know my job?" the two continue to trade barbs until the man tells Walton to "go do your job" and the officer eventually backs down and appears to begin leaving before turning back and asking where the man worked.
"Where do you work...Little Caesar's?" Walton asked the man, who appeared to be wearing a shirt with the pizza chain's logo on the front. "I don't come to where you work and tell you how to do your job."
Sisk said the youth was arrested and charged with violating a municipal code.
As of Wednesday, the video had been shared more than 2,000 times on Facebook and viewed more than 100,000 times.
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