Another day, another Black man arrested because he fit the description. Emmy-winning film and TV producer, Charles Belk was detained, handcuffed, imprisoned and given a $100,000 bail by the Beverly Hills Police because he fit the description of a robbery suspect. Belk was walking to his car after leaving a restaurant in Beverly Hills when he was aggressively approached by police.
Belk was held for six hours by the power-happy cops and was denied everything from an explanation as to why he was being arrested to his phone call. The Harvard-educated producer had never been arrested, nor had he had any run-ins with police in all f his 51 years. So to say this interaction with the police was shocking and traumatizing, is an understatement.
After first being accused of being the bank robber, Belk was later accused by an FBI agent to have aided and abetted in the robbery because he was seen going in and out of the bank several times complaining about the ATM Machine to cause a distraction. Seriously!? It’s like the authorities didn’t care what they blamed Belk for, they just wanted him to somehow be involved in the crime.
When he was finally released, he immediately shared his experience on his Facebook page:
It’s one of those things that you hear about, but never think it would happen to you. On Friday afternoon, August 22nd around 5:20pm, while innocently walking by myself from a restaurant on Wilshire Blvd, to my car up LaCienega Blvd my freedom was taken from me by the Beverly Hills Police Department. Within seconds, I was detained and told to sit on the curb of the very busy street, during rush hour traffic.
Within minutes, I was surrounded by 6 police cars, handcuffed very tightly, fully searched for weapons, and placed back on the curb.
Within an hour, I was transported to the Beverly Hills Police Headquarters, photographed, finger printed and put under a $100,000 bail and accused of armed bank robbery and accessory to robbery of a Citibank.
Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded…..All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong “tall, bald head, black male,” … “fitting the description.”
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know at the time that I was a law abiding citizen of the community and that in my 51 years of existence, had never been handcuffed or arrested for any reason. All they saw, was someone fitting the description. Doesn’t matter if he’s a “Taye Diggs BLACK”, a “LL Cool J BLACK”, or “a Drake BLACK”
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was a well educated American citizen that had received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, an MBA from Indiana University (including a full Consortium Fellowship to business school) and an Executive Leadership Certificate from Harvard Business School. Hey, I was “tall”, “bald”, a “male” and “black”, so I fit the description.
I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that just hours earlier, I was at one of the finest hotels in their city, handling celebrity talent at a Emmy Awards Gifting Suite, as part of business as usual, and, invited to attend a VIP Emmy pre-party that very night in their city. The guy doing that, just DON”T fit the description.
What I don’t get………WHAT I DON”T GET, is, why, during the 45 minutes that they had me on the curb, handcuffed in the sun, before they locked me up and took away my civil rights, that they could not simply review the ATM and bank’s HD video footage to clearly see that the “tall, bald headed, black male”… did not fit MY description.
Why, at 11:59pm (approximately 6 hours later), was the video footage reviewed only after my request to the Lead Detective for the Beverly Hills Police Department and an FBI Agent to do so, and, after being directly accused by another FBI Special Agent of “…going in and out of the bank several times complaining about the ATM Machine to cause a distraction…” thereby aiding in the armed robbery attempt of a bank that I never heard of, or ever been to; and within 10 minutes……10 MINUTES, my lawyer was told that I was being release because it was clear that it was not me.
Time has come for a change in the way OUR law enforcement officers “serve and protect” us.
We all do not, FIT THE DESCRIPTION.
Imagine how how often this happens to men who are not of Belk’s caliber and don’t have the social platform to complain and go viral. The end of Belk’s post says it all: “Time has come for a change in the way OUR law enforcement officers ‘serve and protect’ us. We all do not, FIT THE DESCRIPTION.”
The Beverly Hills Police have issued an apology, claiming that it was “extremely unfortunate” that the officers handcuffed and detained Belk. “The Beverly Hills Police Department deeply regrets the inconvenience to Mr. Belk and has reached out to him to express those regrets and further explain the circumstances,” police officials said. But the officers claimed that they “properly detained” Belk given the “totality of the circumstances.”
Sgt. Max Subin told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday night that city officials had spoken to Belk’s attorney. “He’s definitely made Mr. Belk’s concerns known to us, and we are looking into those concerns,” Subin said. “We definitely regret the inconvenience that was caused.”
Inconvenience? Yeah, Belk’s experience was a whole lot more than inconvenient. It speaks to the current relationship between law enforcement and men of color. There’s far too much tension. And when sensationalized cases like Michael Brown’s come up, we’re outraged for a while and on to the next trending topic when we feel we’ve tweeted enough. There’s got to be more we can do to help ease the tensions between law enforcement and men of color.
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