Geremy Faulkner, who turned 18 in February, was videotaping police interaction with looters and bystanders last Monday afternoon at Baltimore’s Mondawmin Mall when he was arrested along with 250 others in the city that day. He spent the next 44 hours in jail, crammed in a small holding cell with as many as twelve men with no beds, no blankets, no pillows, intermittent water (the pipes spewed brown water that the guards suggested they avoid drinking), inadequate food, and no access to an attorney.
He was never charged with a crime.
“I looked on the news and saw [the looting] was directly across from me,” he said, explaining how he came to be arrested. He lives right across the street from the mall and saw that protesters and looters were gathering there. The Mondawmin Mall sits near Frederick Douglass High School and is also a transportation hub that sees almost 1,000 students pass through on their way home from school each day as they switch buses, hop on subways, or go to the mall after school.
When social media announced that there would be looting at the mall, police in riot gear descended to close off roads and shut down buses and subways. Hundreds of students were stranded in the area and tension escalated. “I wanted to know what was going on and thought, the more documentation the better, because this not okay,” Faulkner said. “If an officer would in any way … have reacted to the crowd I was worried it would escalate.… I was taking video on Snapchat.”
Faulkner ended up in an alley recording a police chase; eight officers ran after a kid who appeared to have been looting in the mall. The kid scaled a fence and got away, but Faulkner, who had been standing next to some police officers in the alley for a while, simply stepped back out of the way, he said. “I’m continuing to take video,” he said. “I’m not hindering them. I just moved to the side and put my hands in air and expected them to run past me. But one of the guys in riot gear kicks me in legs. ‘You wanna kill cops?’ he says and he hits me. Then he hits me again. I said ‘What’s your name?’ He says, ‘Shut the fuck up.’” Faulkner said the officer threw him to the ground, put his knee into his back, cuffed him, and stepped on his hand to kick his phone out of the way sending it skittering into the bushes. Faulkner was put into a police van with seven others and taken to Central Booking.
Faulkner, who graduated from Baltimore’s Career Academy High School in January, works part-time at Panera’s and goes to a local community college. He has never been arrested. If he is guilty, it is most likely for the “crime” of being a risk-taking black teen who runs toward trouble for a closer look rather than away from it.
I know, because he is my son’s best friend and had just left our house before being swept up by the police on Monday.