On Monday, as many as 30 people surrounded a Georgia police officer as he pointed a gun at six Black teenagers with their hands in the air, determined to ensure the teenagers’ safety against yet another potential case of police brutality directed at the Black community.
Though much of the crowd seemed to have been under the impression that the teenagers had been stopped for using a neighborhood shortcut, the owner of a store had actually called in an accusation that the teenagers had tried to steal from him, fought in his parking lot, and flashed a gun around.
However, surveillance video from the store shows the teenagers in the parking lot interacting in a casual and friendly manner with each other. One teenager does appear to pull out a gun before tossing it back and forth with his friend, but as would be established later in the footage from the officer’s body camera, this gun was actually a BB gun, and the boy no longer had it on him by the time the police officer arrived.
The officer engaged with the crowd in a somewhat aggressive manner, repeatedly shouting variations of “mind your business” at them in response to pleas to not shoot the teenagers because “they’re just babies.” The crowd refused to disperse, with multiple people filming the interaction and drivers stopping their cars to get out and join them.
The scene was resolved peacefully after police backup arrived and searched the teenagers, proving that there were no weapons on any of them. After that, the teenagers were escorted back to the store, where the officer appears to demand they affirm his handling of the situation before going on a rant about the crowd’s attempt at intervention.
“It got extra when everybody and your mother got involved. That’s the problem with folks, they don’t even know whats going on, but they fill in their two cents”
At this point, the existence of the BB gun was revealed and the officer told the teens that they weren’t in trouble but “you shouldn’t have BB guns,” going on to say that carrying things like that is what gets people shot. After locating the BB gun, which had been abandoned in the nearby bushes, and giving their details to the police, the teens were allowed to go home. No charges have been filed against them.
Rapper TI, Shanelle Ladd—who took and posted one of the recordings—and one of the teens, Kamari Moore, spoke on camera in the aftermath of the event.
TI spoke on the double standard Black people are held to when it comes to firearms.
“Why are only people of color, young black boys, young black girls being gunned down into the hands of policemen and using excuses like BB guns? They have white boys, they got real rifles they go hunting, every day, every week with their grandparents and parents. They aren’t being held at gunpoint.”
Moore said, “I thought I was gonna die because I’ve seen all these Black kids dying and to have myself in that, it was just crazy.”
Ladd spoke on how “this isn’t an isolated incident,” saying that after she posted the video on Twitter a lot of people got in touch to say they’d had similar experience with the local police. That “if policing was great the community would not have feared in the way that they did and intervened in the way that they did. So that’s the problem.”
Ladd ended by announcing a rally demanding change, including better de-escalation training for the police force, in Jonesboro, Georgia on Wednesday at 5pm ET.