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.
Check Out This Gallery Of Mike Brown Protestors:
Hands Up, Don't Shoot: Ferguson Sparks Photo Movement
1. A Call To Action
The fatal shooting of yet another unarmed teen, Michael Brown has caused outrage that's gone way beyond Ferguson, Missouri where the shooting happened. Protestors from all over are gathering, raising two hands in the air--the classic gesture of surrender--and turning the passive move into defiance for the sake of protesting Brown's death. Hands Up, Don't Shoot has become the definition of Ferguson protests.
6. Young Black Men Support
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
7. No Justice, No Peace!
A demonstrator raises his hands and holds up a sign during a rally to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
8. Hands Up
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson.
9. Don't Shoot
A demonstrator in a business suit raises his hands during a rally to protest.
10. Beyond Color
Why is the officer looking at this White woman, who is supporting Mike Brown, in this way?
11. Youth Movement
A young man raising his hands in support of Mike Brown.
12. Don't Shoot
A White woman with her hands raised in submission with the message on her palms.
13. Generational Support
An older woman raises her hands in support of Mike Brown and the Hands Up, Don't Shoot movement.
14. Activists Of Our Generation
Protest over the killing of unarmed teen, Mike Brown in Ferguson.
15. Gathering Crowds
A capacity crowd gathers at Greater St. Marks Family Church along with the family of Michael Brown and civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton to discuss the killing of brown and the civil unrest resulting from his death.
16. Mike Brown's Mother
Lesley McSpadden (L), the mother of slain teenager Michael Brown joins a capacity crowd of guests at Greater St. Marks Family Church to discuss the killing of her son and the civil unrest resulting from his death.
17. The Revolution Will Be Socially Shared
Demonstrators raise their hands and chant "hands up, don't shoot" during a protest over the killing of Michael Brown.
Demonstrators wearing Guy Fawkes masks, raise their hands during a rally on West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen by a police officer in Ferguson.
19. T-Shirt With A Message
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Michael Brown.
20. RIP Mike
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest Mike Brown's death.
21. Hands Up
Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
22. We Are One Race
A demonstrator holds banner during a rally to protest the shooting death of an unarmed teen, Mike Brown.
23. Do I Fit The Description?
Mohamed Bangoura, 21, holds a sign after speaking about a recent incident when he was pulled aside by the Boston Police while walking home one day because he was told, "he fit the description."
24. Am I Next?
Demetrus Washington joins other demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
25. A Happy Protestor
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
26. We Are Praying With My Feet
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.
27. Masked Supporter
Demonstrators raise their hands during a rally on West Florissant Avenue to protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
28. Just A Young Black Man, Walking
Mothers need to have conversations with their sons regarding their lives and how to stay safe with police.
29. Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae grabbed her Wondaland camp to offer support to Mike Brown.
30. A Stand Off
Ferguson police face protestors who refuse to give up.
31. Even Kids Are Involved
Wow, the impact this movement will have on children is incredible! They know activism at such young age!
32. The Power Of Banning Together
Demonstrators protest the shooting of Mike Brown.
33. We Want Answers
Ferguson residents challenge police with their hands up.
34. Mommy/Daughter Team
How amazing is it that mothers are teaching their kids the importance of being down for the cause.
35. Brave Supporters
Protestors rally around Mike Brown's death
36. We Need Justice
It's a beautiful thing to see our young Black men commit to change!
37. Black Teens Support
As the tear gas fills the air, Black teens stay focused on the cause.
38. Hands Up
Protestors support Mike Brown's family.
39. Don't Shoot!
One brave soul spray paints his chest with the message.
40. Passive Aggressive
Sure, the hands up move may seem passive, but this protest turns it into an aggressive response to police brutality.
41. The People Flee
People flee as police advance on protestors firing tear gas and rubber bullets to force them from the business district into nearby neighborhoods.
42. Let There Be Peace
Supporters go down to their knees with hands up for Hands Up, Don't Shoot.
43. Howard University Students
HBCU, Howard University's students ban together to offer their support.
44. Reverend Al Sharpton
Reverend Al Sharpton is often one of the first responders of racial wrongdoing. He's been very supportive of the Brown family.
45. Hell No, We Won't Go!
Residents and their supporters were protesting the shooting.
What a beautiful sight to see! People banning together to fight for our rights!
47. Assume The Position
A man is approached by the police while his hands are up.
48. A Sniper, Really?
You can see one person's hands up in reaction to the sniper.
49. Never Give Up
On the 4th day of violent protests, brave souls don't give up.
50. Is It A Race Thing?
Demonstrators protest the shooting death of Mike Brown.
51. A Powerful Image
Police approach a man on his knees who's hands are up and his back is turned.