From Marfa Public Radio:
As protests against police violence sparked by the death of George Floyd raged across the country, Midland residents were already questioning how local law enforcement treats people of color.
More than two weeks ago, a cell phone video was posted online showing the tense arrest of a 21-year-old black Midland man. Unlike many other arrests of people of color, that incident fortunately did not end in death.
However, the events have brought to light accusations that the Midland Police Department has used excessive force and racial profiling against the city’s black and brown residents.
On Sunday night, hundreds of protestors gathered at Midland Park Mall to show solidarity with other demonstrations across America that have been sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The crowd in Midland roared as they chanted, “Black lives matter.”
One of the loudest voices in the crowd was lifelong Midlander Courtney Ratliff. In his view, the anger fueling the Midland protest didn’t start with Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. It began almost a week earlier, when a cell phone video surfaced of multiple Midland Police officers aiming their guns at 21-year-old Tye Anders, a black man, who had allegedly run a stop sign.
Ratliff said he was protesting the use of excessive force by police officers, explaining that the house where Midland PD cornered Anders is only a few blocks from his own home. “I live in that neighborhood, those are my people,” Ratliff said.
In the video captured by a family member and posted to social media, Anders lays face-down on his grandmother’s front lawn with his hands out, screaming, “Put y’alls guns down. Put your guns down. I’m scared.”
The incident on May 16 began when an officer noticed Anders driving his mother’s 2017 silver Dodge Challenger. According to the arrest affidavit, the officer started to follow Anders several minutes before he allegedly rolled through a stop sign at the intersection of Maple Avenue and Butternut Lane. The only evidence of Anders rolling the stop sign is the officer’s account of the event.
Dashboard camera footage from the officer’s cruiser begins just after Anders passes through the intersection. Anders stops for two additional stop signs before turning onto Pecan Ave. The officer then turns on his lights to signal Anders to pull over. Anders continues to drive for less than 30 seconds until he pulls into his grandmother’s driveway — where he was headed to celebrate his birthday.
Note: A previous version of this story spelled Courtney Ratliff’s name incorrectly.
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