Walking While Black: Brandon’s Story

In case you haven’t seen enough appalling news about the wrongful arrests and murders of unarmed Black men, this is Brandon’s story:

On the evening of Monday, August 5, 2013 at 8:30pm, I left rehearsal for an upcoming production of Romeo & Juliet with the Downtown Repertory Theatre Company.  I arrived at the 7th St. Metro Center Station at 8:41pm to take the Blue Line train to Wilmington Station. The train left at 8:45pm, the trip was 24 minutes in total and I arrived at Wilmington Station at 9:09pm.  The Green Line train arrived at 9:21pm and I arrived at the Avalon Station at 9:23pm.  Due to the slow run of buses that occur after 9pm, I decided to walk home from Avalon Station to Avalon/127th St.   While walking, I listened to music on my iPhone to remain focused and occupied.  As I got to the corner of Avalon/127th at 9:33pm, I noticed a police car turning from the intersection.  Thinking I was safe and protected in light of a series of sketchy activity within the area for the past few weeks, I proceeded to walk home.

Four houses down from my grandmother’s house, I saw a car slowly approaching behind me.  Not knowing who was inside the vehicle, I mimicked tying my shoes out of fear that I could be harmed. I didn’t have any form of protection and only had my instincts to rely on.  After a few seconds I proceeded to walk a little faster—running would have made me look suspicious and made this situation worse—and it was then that I realized that the car approaching me was the police car I had noticed earlier (9:33pm).  Two officers (one Filipino male and one Hispanic female) stopped and told me to put my hands on the car and frisk me for evidence. With all of my belongings on the car (a USC messenger bag with my play script, book, and a silver canteen of water) they asked me to take off my shoes and sit inside the car.  They questioned me about where I was coming from and my response was: “I was coming home from rehearsal in Downtown LA.”  The male officer proceeded to search the area and talked to one of my neighbors. My neighbor was asked whether or not he recognized me.

Afterwards, they take me to the Burger King parking lot on Avalon/El Segundo, where two other deputies questioned me.  The first officer asked whether I had been arrested before and said that the deputies found a cell phone in my bag.  Confused, I told him, I do not recognize the phone and that it was never in my bag. PERIOD.  I don’t know why or how this accusation came about, but it definitely frustrated me. I knew that they were playing mind games with me, as they are trained to do so.  The second officer asked the same question and said, “We can either make this easy or hard.”  He proceeded to ask why I took the phone and I claimed that I had no contact with the phone whatsoever.  He then said, “We are going to take you in for robbery and kidnapping.”  My heart dropped, but I still maintained an attitude of peace because I knew it was an outrageous charge, and they knew that I wasn’t the culprit.  I didn’t fit the demo at all. I began to explain to him that I was a recent USC grad and that I would never do anything to disrespect and dishonor my family in this fashion.  The deputy’s response:  “I don’t care…it doesn’t matter to me.”

I was handcuffed and taken back to my house where the deputy took my bag to my grandmother for recognition. The officer asked whether she recognized the bag and gave my name. She said, “yes,” then asked what happened. The officer responded, “He’s in big trouble.”  She also asked where they were taking me and why. His response was: “I’m not allowed to give you that information.”  He leaves the bag with my grandmother and I am taken to the Century Regional Detention Center, where I was detained for two nights.

On Tuesday afternoon, August 6th, I spoke with a detective who questioned and wanted further clarification on my activity on Monday night.  I reinstated my story with the claim that I was simply coming home from rehearsal in Downtown LA.  I have no knowledge of a robbery, nor did I come into any physical contact with a phone, bandanna, and cash found near the area I was arrested.  Simply put, they had the wrong person!  I finished my claim once again with the fact that as a recent USC grad who wants to utilize my theatre degree and excel in life, I would never bring dishonor upon my family by committing such an act.

On Wednesday morning, August 7th, at around 9am, I was transferred to the Compton Courthouse for my supposed court date.  I was in a holding cell from about 10am until 2:30pm without seeing a judge.  At around that time, I was called for release along with 3 other guys. We were taken into another booking cell in which we were called for one by one by a deputy to sign paperwork and do fingerprints.  At 3:28pm, I was released with my belongings – a wallet and shoestrings.  My iPhone and shoes were still booked in evidence and I was given the County Jail’s shoes since the night of my arrest.  I had no paperwork or statements whatsoever confirming my release.

Facts

– I was not read my rights upon arrest.

– I was very oblivious to whatever incident occurred that evening.

– Detained for 2 nights.

– Did not see a judge.

– I had a clean record.

– Upon my release on Wednesday, August 7th at 3:28pm, I did not receive any paperwork for confirmation.

– When my godsister researched my information Tuesday night (8/6) on lasd.org, the charge level stated at first was felony of robbery.  When she checked again on Thursday, August 8th it was changed to felony.

– Inmates are even saying that I don’t fit the demo.

Items

– iPhone, messenger bag: script, book, canteen, pens and pencils; wallet

Clothing

– Black sneakers (Adidas), blue sweats, black graphic tee, purple sweater

Misc/thoughts/feelings

“I felt very scared for you cause I know you didn’t do anything wrong.  I kept praying for you.”

-Grandma

“Brandon, I’m shocked.  I don’t know what to do.”

-Mom (during visitation on 8/6)

“The overall experience just seemed cold.  From the atmosphere to the behavior.  I’ve never been in jail before, but that experience served as an epiphany that the very thing you think could protect you, could instead be a threat.”

-Brandon

“On Tuesday, I decided to use this time to consecrate myself and believe God for release and breakthrough.  I was reminded of the story of Paul and Silas in Acts.  I figured, why not just pull out my weaponry, follow suit, and exercise my Kingdom rights.”

-Brandon

Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God.  The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears.  Then, without warning, a huge earthquake!  The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.

Acts 16:25-26 (The Message)

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26 responses to “Walking While Black: Brandon’s Story

  1. Hmmm… at least based on my experiences, he definitely should have received a prisoners receipt detailing the time and location of the arrest, the name of the arresting officer, and I believe the reason for which he was detained. Whether or not they decided to pursue charges, this would at least detail the initial arrest.

  2. This is ludicrous, and a testament to the apparent failure of America’s police force, but I do not see how Brandon is a victim of racism here. Could this be explained further?

    • I agree…you can’t play the race card every time someone black gets in trouble with the law. while this perhaps demonstrates the lack of transparency existing in the ranks of LAPD, that doesn’t mean its a racial issue

    • Yes. There is a lack of transparency.
      Yes. LAPD is corrupt.
      How is it related to race? Lets take a look at all of their targets. They are all people of color. It’s no coincidence.

  3. This is common in the L.A. Area
    With my son, he was walking in a nice area of West Covina, approached by police & told he did not belong there, they proceeded to beat & taz my son until he barely was clinging to life. He was on life support with renal failure, holes in his neck & back from tazer & hit repeatedly over the head. The (5) officers (non-of color). Beat an unarmed black man with autism. For walking

  4. Pingback: Wrong Place at the Wrong Time? | thejlevoir·

  5. Contact an attorney right away! Someone who deals with constitutional law or civil rights law would be best suited to help you. This is completely unacceptable and you deserve justice.

  6. Brandon, you need to reread your blog carefully aloud. In one place, you say you don’t have a cell phone. At the end, you do. I have no doubt this was horrible, humiliating, unspeakable, but if its something that is going to be passed along, there shouldn’t be typos or misinformation. Good luck to you. I was at Downtown Rep last night and you have done such fine work.

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